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19 Dead Including 9 Children in NYC's Deadliest Fire in More Than 30 Years; Interview with Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson About Deadly Fire; Interview with Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY) About Deadly Bronx Fire; Comedian Bob Saget Dies at the Age of 65. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 09, 2022 - 20:00   ET




DAISY MITCHELL, BUILDING RESIDENT: I was scared. I was really scared. I was scared. I mean that's what really hit me.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST (voice-over): Right now, an Australian court considers whether or not to let unvaccinated tennis champion Novak Djokovic into the country to defend his Australian Open title. Could he be deported?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Minister for Health was absolutely, black and white clear, to Mr. Djokovic about what his responsibilities and the expectations were.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, Omicron is surging rapidly across the country, hospitals struggling to keep up.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We have a large proportion of the population that is not vaccinated. That sets up a large pool of people who as they get infected will end up really straining the resources we have in the hospitals today.


MATTINGLY: I'm Phil Mattingly in Washington, in for Pamela Brown tonight. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We begin this hour in New York in what's being called the city's deadliest fire in more than 30 years. At least 19 people were killed including nine children. And the fire broke out shortly before noon today in a Bronx apartment building. Authorities say a faulty space heater sparked the blaze which quickly spread throughout two floors. Now firefighters were on the scene within minutes and quickly launched rescues but an open door to the apartment where the fire started sent massive amounts of smoke pouring out into the escape stairways, leaving many people unable to find their way out.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has been at the scene for hours. And Polo, you've been talking to officials, you've been talking to the community, what are you learning right now based on what's transpired over the course of the last several hours?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Phil, a lot of the people who live in that building are left wondering when they'll actually be allowed to go back inside. Just to give you a sense of fast or how things developed earlier today, that fire was actually in a duplex apartment on the third floor of this 19-story building. But the flames were mainly contained to that apartment. Yet smoke was billowing out of the apartments on the top floor.

So that really gives you a sense of what happened here, that it wasn't the fire itself or the flames, but the smoke that caused so much not only damage but also deaths. As we now know, at least 19 people, nine of them children, now confirmed dead. And a lot of them, according to investigators, likely the cause of death may be smoke inhalation because that building acting basically as a giant chimney when that fire at the base, and yet the smoke is basically flowing through the, or at least billowing through the hallways, floor after floor.

So now investigators certainly want to take a closer look at what if anything can be done to prevent something like that. The mayor had mentioned that the doors to many of those apartments, including the one that was affected, was left open so that basically left an open pathway to the smoke, trapping so many people inside and potentially leading to those 19 deaths. And there is concern tonight on this cold and rainy night that that death toll could potentially continue to climb in the hours or days ahead -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes, and Polo, fire crews were on the scene so quickly, but still 19 people were killed, nine children. You laid out why, but the level of heartache and tragedy at this moment for families, for first responders, for this community, can you even try and lay out what it is?

SANDOVAL: And for the state's chief executive. Of course talking about Governor Kathy Hochul who was here at the site earlier tonight, not just seeing firsthand the damage, just seeing firsthand the building but also walking into a neighboring school that is currently acting as a makeshift shelter at least for now before they're able to place all those families.

I want you to hear how the governor laid out what she experienced, what she felt and what she heard as she spoke to some of those families that were affected, lost property and some even lost loved ones.


DANIEL A. NIGRO, NEW YORK CITY FIRE COMMISSIONER: The door was left open to the apartment. There was at least one door open from the stairwell to a floor, on one of the upper floors. Smoke and heat travel upward. That we know. That's what happened here. As the mayor said, it was a very difficult job for our members. Their air tanks contain a certain amount of air. They ran out of air. Many of our members and they continued working to try to get as many people out as they could. It certainly is traumatizing when we can't save a life. And our

members, you know, tried diligently, Fire and EMS members, to bring some of these people back, and to bring them out as quickly as they could. So we will have our counseling service be very busy after this, with our members who are saddened by this terrible loss.


SANDOVAL: That was actually New York's fire commissioner who you just heard from, again, putting into words what took place earlier today and obviously the incredible heroism that we saw from the men and women of the fire department that rushed in, some of them even without their oxygen tanks, according to the governor.

But what we were mentioning earlier today, Phil, was the governor actually walked into that school and spoke with some of those individuals, who many of them losing their belongings, but one woman in particular losing her entire family.


And they are the ones that are kind of renewing this effort for many of these first responders and these officials to try to make sure that these families get the help they need. We're seeing plenty of help including right now members of the community that are coming out with clothes, warm meals, for those families because they're certainly going to need that assistance not just tonight or tomorrow, but potentially long term as well -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes. A critical community response in a tragic day. Polo Sandoval from the Bronx, thanks so much.

Right now I want to bring in Bronx Borough president Vanessa Gibson.

Ma'am, it's a horrific day for so many families, obviously, in that neighborhood. Tell us, how are people doing there? How is the community responding to this?

VANESSA GIBSON, BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT (via phone): So far, you know, the residents of Twin Parks are very patient. They've been waiting for hours here in the evacuation site, at the neighboring school. They have been registered with the Red Cross to assess their needs, their household size, the number of children, any pets, any medical needs. And we are awaiting the arrival of an MTA bus to transport families in need to local hotels right here in the Bronx, that need temporary housing.

We're providing escort service with the NYPD for families to go into the building to retrieve necessary medicine. And that's it. We believe over the next several days, as the investigation continues, the residents may be able to return to their apartments. But right now, as we know, the fire started on the third floor with a malfunctioning space heater. So there is a lot of water damage and damage to the windows.

The landlord is on site and the work has already started. We have been gathering for hours trying to make sure we coordinate services. But this is just heartbreaking. I'm so overwhelmed. I can't believe that my first week, I have to deal with this horrific fire, five alarm fire that took the life of 19 residents, nine of which were children and 10 adults. And there are 32 residents that are currently hospitalized with serious injuries.

So I'm asking all New Yorkers to please pray for these families, those that have lost their loved ones, and we will do everything we can to work with these families through this process.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It's remarkable. You've been in public service for a long time. But you've borough president for a week basically.

GIBSON: Yes. A week.

MATTINGLY: And this is on your plate. Can I ask you -- obviously the city's response has all hands on deck, the borough response as well. We've heard people in the community doing the same. For people who are affected, what do they need right now that you don't have? What are you looking around for and saying, this would be helpful for people who are watching us right now who want to help?

GIBSON: So I think for the most part this evening we have a lot of what we need. We provided lunch and dinner and water, toiletries, feminine products, clothing, coats. Over the next several days we have to see if residents are able to return into their apartments because they need their clothing, children are going to school this week, so that was the concern, getting personal items out of the apartment.

But we know that there are some apartments that will have permanent damage, where families are not able to return. And so we're going to have to relocate these families probably long term, if they choose not to come back. Many families will be able to return into their apartments. But there is significant damage. And so I'm very mindful of that. So we're going to be announcing relief efforts.

There is an overwhelming amount of New Yorkers that are coming and calling about clothing, children's items, footwear, toiletries, food, everything. And I think it just shows the resiliency of New Yorkers. We've been through horrific fires in New York City, certainly in the Bronx. And I'm grateful to see the governor, the mayor, the senior Senator Chuck Schumer, all the elected officials, all the agencies, I mean, everyone has pretty much come.

Because this is heartbreaking. This could have happened in any part of our city at any given time, and it happened in the Bronx. And so as the borough president, I'm grateful to have this circle of support to really provide the need for the residents of Twin Parks.

MATTINGLY: Can I just ask you before I let you go? You know, we talk about numbers, and you look at pictures of the building. Can you talk about the community itself, particularly, you know, there's a large immigrant community inside this building itself.

GIBSON: Right.

MATTINGLY: What should people know about the residents of this building and the people that surround it?

GIBSON: People should know that, you know, this particular building on 181st Street in this neighborhood is a very vibrant community of working-class residents. We have many immigrant families that have migrated here from West Africa, from other parts of our country. And they are raising their families. A lot of the residents have lived in this building for a very long time. You have generations. So I met a young lady whose parents live in the building and her grandparents.

And, you know, that's what we see. And we just want to assure a lot of people, because there will be a concern that anyone who is an immigrant or undocumented should not fear sharing information with us on their household information. We're not evicting anyone. We're not sharing information with ICE or any deportation agent.


We're going to make sure that everyone is protected. They are safe. If they want to relocate, we will help them. If they want to return, we will also help, because the goal as borough president is to make sure that we heal from this, and we remember those that we lost. But we also know that the dozens of families that live in this building need to return to some sense of normalcy.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It's not just a one-day story. This is weeks and months ahead.

GIBSON: That's right, it sure is.

MATTINGLY: Bronx Borough president Vanessa Gibson, thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

GIBSON: Thank you very much. Thank you. God bless you all. Thank you so much.

MATTINGLY: And joining me now is Democratic Congressman Richie Torres in New York. His district covers most of the south Bronx.

Congressman, this is in your district. Your community lost 19 people tonight, nine children this evening. Give us your reaction right now about what happened in your community.

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): The fire at Twin Parks Northwest is just a source of profound trauma and tragedy. And I have constituents who lost their children, who lost their family, who lost their home, all in the span of a single fire. The Bronx has been the scene of the most destructive fires in the past 30 years, from Happy Land in 1990 to now Twin Parks Northwest in 2022.

And I worry that much of the housing stock in the south Bronx is uniquely susceptible to fire hazards because not every apartment or common area has a fire alarm. Not every building has a sprinkler system. Not every stove has a safety knob. Many of these buildings lack 21st century standards of fire safety.

The investigation into Twin Parks Northwest is not yet complete. But what we do know is that there was a space heater, which is an extraordinary fire hazard that began the fire. And then the front door, which was supposed to be self-closing, was inexplicably left open, and the stairwell door was left open, causing the fire to spread lively and rapidly throughout the building.

It's a 19-story building, about 120 units. The third floor was by far the most damaged and the tenants living on the third floor are going to be displaced for the long run. But I've partnered with the borough president and with the Red Cross and OEM and the city to ensure that every family has access to hotel rooms here in the Bronx in the short term and then once the building is restored, we're going to return as many of those families as we can to their homes.

MATTINGLY: You mentioned, you know, your concerns about the building stock, kind of broader ranging concerns based on your district and some of the buildings there. This building was built in 1972. I think the fire chief said that there was a smoke alarm, it was heard. Have you heard anything from the ongoing investigation that raises concerns about the condition of the building or people not getting the alerts that they should have in this moment?

TORRES: Look, I worry about the use of fire hazards which are a threat to fire safety. My understanding is there was sufficient -- the legal minimum of heat required in the apartment. But there are tenants who were so cold that they resort to fire -- to space heaters. The question that's unanswered is why were the two doors left open? If the doors were self-closing, why were those doors were left wide open, allowing the fire to spread throughout the building.

So there are deeper questions that have to be answered. But it raises questions for me, like as a policymaker we have to ensure that every American has access to safe, decent and affordable housing and that these buildings have 21st century standards of fire prevention and fire safety.

MATTINGLY: Yes. No question about it, something you've worked on a lot on Capitol Hill. Before I let you go, I think it's important for people to hear, tell me about the community itself. Obviously we've heard it's an immigrant-rich community. This building itself was immigrant-rich as well. Tell people what they should know about not just your district broadly but this particular area of your district.

TORRES: Most of the families at Twin Parks Northwest are immigrant families, you know, who came here in search of a better life. And New York City is often dangerously unaffordable and the Bronx is the most affordable. It's a natural home for immigrants. And so to think that many of these immigrants who came here in search of a better life have lost their families and their homes is deeply tragic and traumatic.

But as their congressman, I'm going to make every effort possible to enable their recovery and do what I can to support them.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Something that's been made clear by federal, state and local officials.

Congressman Richie Torres, it's been a tragic day, thank you so much for your time and sharing your perspective, sir


MATTINGLY: All right. We'll continue to follow the latest developments on the fire. But still ahead, at any moment, an Australian court could announce if the world number one Novak Djokovic will be deported or if he may stay and play in the Australian Open. We're live in Melbourne.


Plus sports journalist and former ESPN and Tennis Channel reporter Cari Champion will break it all down for us, coming up next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

MATTINGLY: Breaking news just into the CNN NEWSROOM. Actor and comedian Bob Saget has died at the age of 65. And this news just breaking moments ago.

CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter, CNN media analyst Bill Carter, and CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas.

Brian, I want to start with you. You guys all joining me right now. This is just kind of coming across the wire as we speak. Brian, I'll start with you. What do we know about this very famous comedian's death?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very sad news from Orlando, Florida. The Orange County Sheriff's Office confirms that actor and comedian Bob Saget was found dead a few hours ago in an Orlando hotel room.


The statement from the sheriff's office says deputies were called to the Ritz-Carlton Orlando in Grand Lakes, a call about an unresponsive man in a hotel room. The man was identified as Robert Saget, that's Bob Saget, and pronounced dead on scene. Now the authorities say there are no signs of foul play or drug use in this case. That's according to detectives on the scene.

We know, Phil, that Bob Saget had been on tour recently. He was on tour in Florida performing for an audience that loved to see him on Saturday night. And then we know he was found dead in a hotel room this afternoon, Sunday afternoon, in Orlando.

MATTINGLY: And Bill, you know, I think everybody obviously knows Bob Saget from "Full House" but he had an expansive career that covered so much more than that. Kind of lay out who Bob Saget was.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, he had a fascinating career, actually. He was a successful standup. He actually did a stint on "The Morning Show" on CBS for a while and of course did the voice on "How I Met Your Mother." He was the guy who's the host of "America's Funniest Home Videos." He directed movies. And he had gone back to standup.

And I have to say, I knew Bob a little bit. I interviewed him several times. He was in our documentary on the "History of the Sitcom." Terrifically engaging guy, a very sweet guy. And it's really sad. I mean, I would never have expected this. He just was so full of life, that guy. And I enjoyed talking to him a lot. I followed him on Twitter. I knew he was on tour. And he just was a guy who I think everybody found just appealing, an appealing personality.

MATTINGLY: And Chloe, I think what's most fascinating is, you know, his cultural resonance over the course of the last decade or so, which went so far beyond. You know, Bill lays out his career which was obviously expansive in and of itself. When you talk about his roles and appearances on "Entourage," he became the opposite of who he was on "Full House" in so many different appearances which made it so hilarious in every sense of the way.

Talk about kind of who he was particularly in the latter part of his career.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Look, this is heartbreaking for so many of us, including myself, who grew up with Bob Saget, who was Danny Tanner, America's dad. Yes, you are alluding to maybe his book he wrote, "Dirty Dad." He played an extreme version of himself on HBO's "Entourage." He had really dirty humor. And the people that went to his comedy shows, his standup comedy shows like Brian Stelter was talking about, he was, you know, touring all over Florida, that's what they turned up for, his profane, vulgar sense of humor, the antithesis of America's dad.

But I think that that juxtaposition right there is just what made Bob Saget such an interesting individual. But he had a real resurgence with the Netflix reboot of "Fuller House" where a whole new audience of people fell in love with Bob Saget, his sense of humor. I've been scrolling on Twitter for the last few minutes to see if any of his co- stars like Lori Loughlin, Candace Cameron Burr, the Olson twins, nobody yet has posted anything about his death.

But again, you know, beloved by so many different types of people, so many different followers, of fans that he had who knew him for different reasons but loved him nonetheless.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And I think, Brian, that's always been the most interesting thing for me. You know, it's a tragic loss of an individual who could play so many different roles in terms of who he was. But there was none more I think poignant to some degree than his role on "Full House." It was a different time on TV, it was a different time in America, and he kind of represented almost the first family to some degree for a lot of people.

STELTER: I think that's absolutely true. "Full House" came on the air in 1987 and went on for eight years and then continued on for many years thereafter in reruns and in syndication, et cetera. We don't have television shows like "Full House" anymore, that appeal to tens of millions of people who all watch at the same time. And that created a type of success and fame for Bob Saget that is now

incredibly vanishingly rare in the entertainment world. You know, he was, as Chloe said, he was Danny Tanner. He was America's dad, through the late '80s, through the '90s. And then later he twisted on that fame. He was able to capitalize and take a turn in a different direction later.

But the "Full House" phenomenon was massive. And then later, you know, later in the '90s -- actually, that's not true, I think in the late '80s and throughout the '90s he hosted "America's Funniest Home Videos." Again, another staple of television that doesn't really exist in this environment anymore. It is a shell of its former self. But in the pre-YouTube era, "America's Funniest Home Videos," a huge phenomenon.


And that was really Bob Saget identified with it throughout the '90s. That is why so many people are hearing this news, shocked tonight. He was only 65 years old, and as I mentioned, found dead in a hotel room in Orlando.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And Bill, I want to jump off that, and obviously Brian gets back to the critical point here, the tragic loss, the tragic death of Bob Saget, but he was kind of an ever-present figure in living rooms, whether it was "Full House," whether it was "Funniest Home Videos," he was always there. And you just don't see that anymore because of the way the medium has changed, because of the way television has changed.

And I guess to the extent that you can crystallize what he was then and why that mattered so much, how would you do it?

CARTER: Well, I would do it this way. At his peak he was starring in if "Full House" and America's children were watching it avidly. My children watching it avidly, we all watched it together. Another phenomenon that doesn't happen. At the same time he was on "America's Funniest Home Videos." I don't know anyone else who has achieved this, probably someone will come up with someone, but he had two top 10 shows that he was in at the same time.

That is extraordinary. And one of a kind, kind of thing. And it just showed his versatility and his appeal. And you just can't imagine something like that happening again. It was so unique and special. And the thing about Bob was, you know, he was not changed by it. I think he appreciated how special and lucky it was that he was an effective standup, and all of this happened to him.

And he just took the ride, he enjoyed the ride, he reveled in the ride, and he was thoughtful about it. He was thoughtful about his role as a father that kids looked up to and he talked about it very seriously even though he was a comedian. I thought he was a guy who really wound up accidentally becoming enormously famous and really appreciated it.

MATTINGLY: And he almost carried himself that way, which I think is probably part of his appeal.

Chloe, you have your pulse on kind of the current cultural moment better than anybody I know or follow. What's you know --

MELAS: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: It's true.

MELAS: I would argue -- I would argue that's Brian Stelter. I've just been wanting to say this, so I interviewed Jeff Franklin, the creator of "Full House" sometime during the pandemic, and we were talking about "Full House" was like "Friends." And I don't want to get emotional here, but like I was 1 year old, right, in 1987. I'm the same age as the Olson twins, for context, I'm 35. I grew up watching both of the shows that Bill was talking about with my family, in front of the television set with our bunny ears, trying to get the signal to work, right?

So that was -- those were my peers, right? And so Danny Tanner was my dad. He was everybody's dad. Right? And so Jeff Franklin, the creator of "Full House," was telling me that, you know, it was this cultural phenomenon where people in other countries learned English by watching "Full House." Right? That this wasn't just some show that we watched here in the United States.

This was something that was playing on for years in syndication and reruns all over the world. And I think that that is why, when people are going to find out about the news of Bob Saget, he's not just America's dad. He was the world's dad, right? And that might sound heavy, but it's really the truth. And so a lot of people are going to be deeply affected by this tragic loss at such an early age.

You know, and like Brian said, it's really important to point out that the authorities are saying that there's no foul play involved and no known drug use involved, right? So we're still waiting to get those details. But such a loss. And again, I'm just waiting to see what his co-stars are going to be saying, like John Stamos and others.

MATTINGLY: Yes. No question, to the extent he was ever present in our lives, he was certainly ever-present in theirs.

Chloe, Brian, Bill, thanks so much. We're going to continue to follow this breaking news, the death of Bob Saget. Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: Just into CNN, the actor, the comedian, to some degree America's dad at various points, Bob Saget, has died at the age of 65. This news just coming into CNN a few moments ago. I want to bring back in CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter, CNN media analyst Bill carter, and CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas.

Chloe, I want to start with you because what you said before the break kind of resonated as somebody who -- you know, my parents, my dad was from San Francisco and so like the Golden Gate Bridge, the intro of the song of "Full House," the second it would click was such a poignant moment in the family. And I feel like that resonated with so many people. And yet he was able to continue beyond "Full House," beyond "America's Funniest Home Videos," and you noted the Netflix "Fuller House" version of things kind of held that hit and I think to some degree with the different generation. Is that kind of the correct take on things?

MELAS: Yes. Exactly, you've put it so perfectly. I mean, I'm digesting this in real time, as a reporter. You know, like, this is really sad news. You know, I grew up loving "Full House." I mean, I was obsessed with "Full House." Watched it on repeat, rerun, back before we had DVRs, right?


My poor mother she would have to like record it on VHS, on these tapes, you know, and we had them labeled. You know. You know, one of the first things I'll do after this segment is call my mom and wake her up. She's probably sleeping right now, but I'll tell her about this and we'll talk about it. You know, and I think that a lot of people are going to be talking about this and processing this, because this is one of those shows.

It's like when you grew up watching "Happy Days" or "Laverne and Shirley" or losing Betty White and "The Golden Girls." This is one of those moments, those cultural icons that meant so much to so many people. And yes, other people knew him for his dirty humor and for his standup and for his role on "Entourage." But like I said before, "Fuller House," the show that ran on Netflix from 2016 to 2020 reintroduced Bob Saget to an entire new generation.

People who grew up watching him, now their children were watching Bob Saget. And so I think that like Bill was saying, there's not many stars and actors who can claim that. And that's why this one cuts so deep.

MATTINGLY: There's no question about it. Before I get to Bill and Brian, I want to bring in some sound. Bob Saget explaining how he got his iconic role as Danny Tanner on "Full House" by accident. Take a listen to what he told our Jake Tapper just last year.


BOB SAGET, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: I was doing audience warm-up for "Bosom Buddies" as a comedian when I lived in L.A.. trying to get my career going, and then "Full House" was an accident. I got fired from a job on CBS and was asked to be in "Full House," I wasn't available, and then I got to the show. And it was made by the producers of "Happy Days," which was another show. It was Tom Miller and Bob Boyet. And they made "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley," all of these classic sitcoms. And so I was kind of the Richie Cunningham on "Full House" and Stamos was Fonzie and Dave was Ralph or Potsie.


MATTINGLY: I feel like there's so many of those stories.

Brian, you know, we don't have a ton of detail about Bob Saget's death. We have a tweet from law enforcement. You've mentioned, though, he was on tour, I believe he had a performance last night or two nights ago.


MATTINGLY: What do you know about that right now?

STELTER: That's right, and after his performance in Jacksonville, Florida, at 3:45 in the morning, here's what he posted to his fans on Twitter. He said he loved the tonight's show, he appreciated the audience, he said, "Thanks again." He said, "I had no idea I did a two-hour set tonight." He said, "I am happily addicted again to doing standup, to being on the road." And then he promoted his future dates.

Now his Web site, which he mentioned there, that's crashed because there are so many people trying to visit his Web site right now, but he did have this active performance schedule going out on tour, doing standup. And as you mentioned, we don't know a lot about his death. But we do know this, just in from the sheriff's office, in an e-mail to CNN, saying they responded to the hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, just after 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time today.

So about 12 hours after that tweet we just showed onscreen and in response to a man down call, and the unresponsive adult was found to be Bob Saget. There will certainly be questions about his death, about his manner of death. But let's go back to his life. And as you showed, Phil, that moment just now with Jake Tapper, that interview with Tapper that aired, you know, Bob Saget was a Philly guy just like Tapper.

And Tapper said on Twitter just now, "What a kind and sweet person, so full of life and light. Constantly lifting up those in his world." And I think that is a true line for Bob Saget's life, he was able to lift up others and make them better. Think about "Full House" as being an ensemble show. Think about "America's Funniest Home Videos" as a program where yes, we laughed along with people's embarrassments and sometimes they're not flops.

And yet we also kind of held them together and cheer them on. You know, there's not a lot of shows like that on TV anymore, and Bob Saget was able to star in two of them at the same time.

MATTINGLY: Yes. I want to get back to you guys in just a few minutes, especially you, Bill. I know you knew him a little bit. So we're going to continue following the breaking news. Guys, stick with me.

The death of Bob Saget, we're just learning about this new, this information. Stay with us, we'll have more after the break.


[20:44:04] MATTINGLY: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, where the breaking news is Bob Saget. He was on "Full House," the dad, America's dad to some degree, "America's Funniest Home Videos," a comedic legend, somebody whose career spanned decades and was a permanent fixture in American consciousness, to some degree, has died. He died at the age of 65.

He was found unresponsive in an Orlando area hotel room. According to the Orange County Sheriff's Department the cause of death is still unknown but according to the sheriff's department there were no signs of foul play or drug use. We're going to keep you updated as we get more reporting on that front.

But for now, I want to bring back in my panel. We've been kind of walking through what Bob Saget meant over the course of his career, not just in the entertainment industry, not just in Hollywood but I think to the country to some degree in a more nostalgic, very different era of television.

Brian Stelter, Chloe Melas, and Bill Carter. And Bill, you mentioned that you knew him a little bit. You certainly ran in circles with folks who dealt with him, knew him well.


Explain how he was considered in terms of what kind of a person he was inside the industry, inside television.

CARTER: I think if you look at even the tweets you're seeing now, he had a huge amount of goodwill. I mean the guy really did build up a lot of goodwill because he was a star who didn't -- he never acted like a star. He was just a working comic who got a great break and enjoyed the heck out of it. You know, I met him a few times when he was on "Full House" and then later in his career.

And then I really had a long talk with him when he came on my Sirius radio show when I had that. And, you know, he would talk about things like how when he was on "Full House," the girls kind of looked at him as the dad on the set. And he kind of -- he really took that really seriously. And I know he wound up advising them and talking to them. And obviously there were issues with some of the girls.

You know, Jodie Sweetin had issues later in her life. And he connected with them, he stayed with them, he felt a real bond with them, because it came naturally to him. I think it really did. I mean, you know, he was -- I don't think he was a deep guy in that sense, but he was a feeling guy. He felt empathy toward a lot of people. And I think that makes you a great comedian, by the way, if you're able to do that.

But interestingly, his life was not unlike the life of Danny Tanner in this sense. He had three daughters. Danny Tanner had three daughters. He had been a TV morning show host, he was a morning host on this show. So he had sort of this connection that really resonated with him and I think it made him even more conscious of the role he was playing as a dad to these girls who were in fact motherless on the show.

And one of the crazy things about that show, as he mentioned to me, is that it was based in tragedy. And it became this very broad comedy. That, you know, little kids loved, they loved it, they would never miss it. And that's a pretty unique and special thing that happened there.

MATTINGLY: Yes. A staple in everybody's lives. Bill, you mentioned some of the tweets. I want to read some of them now. Moments ago, comedian Jon Stewart sent his condolences writing, "Bob Saget, just the funniest and nicest." Andy Cohen tweeting, "He had the biggest heart and wore it on his sleeve. He was so generous with his feelings, a mensch. Hashtag Bobsaget."

And Joel McHale just wrote, "I'm so shocked at Bob Saget's passing. One of the most kind and thoughtful people I've ever come across and he just happened to be one of the funniest people on the planet. I will miss you so much, Bob. Love you, dear friend. I'm so sorry, Kelly Rizzo and the rest of the family."

Moments ago Bob Saget's "Full House" co-star. We're going to keep kind of following the responses right now. Again, this is happening in real time and I think people are grappling with it as it happens. And as we get more information, obviously an individual who resonated inside the industry, inside television, inside the country for a lot of people and whose career wasn't just the late 1980s and mid-'90s, it was really consistent and continuous throughout through several different phases.

We're going to have so much more after this break. Bob Saget, dead at 65.



MATTINGLY: We're back with the breaking news, Bob Saget, the actor, the comedian, the ever-present figure on Americans' television for seemingly a decade or more, has died. He died at the age of 65. He was found unresponsive in an Orlando area hotel. The police, the sheriff's department down in Orange County, Florida, said that there was no foul play discovered at this point, no use of drugs either, but they do not have a cause of death. They are still investigating.

And we are starting to get responses pouring in now from Saget's friends, from his co-stars, including John Stamos, the Jesse to Danny Tanner, just reacted on Twitter, quote, "I am broken. I'm gutted. I'm in complete and utter shock. I will never ever have another friend like him. I love you so much, Bobby."

I want to bring back in my panel, Chloe, Bill, Brian, and just kind of as we close up the hour last thoughts, Chloe, I'll start with you, about what Bob Saget meant.

MELAS: Man, it's hard to put it into words. He was a complicated individual. But I have to say losing Betty White and now Bob Saget, two TV icons, both of which meant a heck of a lot to my formative years and my childhood. It's a lot. And a lot of people are really, really sad right now all over the world. MATTINGLY: Yes. And Bill?

CARTER: Well, you know, Phil, I've written a lot about comedians, late-night hosts, in my career. And you know, they can be a little difficult, they can have an edge, they can be hard to know. And you don't usually come up with the adjective sweet to describe them. But Bob was a sweet guy. You could tell it in your exchanges with him. You could feel it. He's a warm guy. And, you know, he's a sweet guy who had a great career and he deserved it.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And Brian, your final thoughts?

STELTER: To add to that word sweet, also the word kind. Many fellow comedians saying he was so kind. Saget was back out on tour, that's why he was in Florida. He had tour dates scheduled at least through June. By his own account, he was loving what he was doing, returning to standup, being back out on the road.

But you know what his tour was called, Phil? It was called the "I Don't Do Negative" tour. "I Don't Do Negative." That's a nice thought and maybe an inspiring thought heading into a new week.


As people mourn the death of Bob Saget, think about what he brought, the positives he brought to television. He said, "I don't do negative." And maybe that's a message to all of us.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it certainly is. Bob Saget, somebody who everybody can recognize, was in their living rooms for years.

Bill, Brian, Chloe, thanks so much for your perspective.

A man who was clean and family friendly, and also quite raunchy on the comedic side, but kind more than anything else. Bob Saget, dead at the age of 65.

Thank you for joining me this evening. I'm Phil Mattingly. Have a good rest of your evening.