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Actor Louis Gossett Jr. Died At 87; Everest-Sized Volcano Found On Surface Of Mars; Fish Around Florida Keys Spinning In Circles, Dying. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 11:30   ET




TOM MCNAMARA, MAYOR OF ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS: The community to know that Jenna died saving her sister and her friend and protecting them from further harm.


VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And investigators say that after Soto is accused of killing four people, he then tried to break into two other homes and attempted to kill five other people. Right now, he's facing 13 charges, but investigators say that number could grow as they get further into this investigation. Federal charges are even possible. He's due in court next on April 2, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What an awful story. Veronica Miracle, thank you. And movie fans are mourning the death of Oscar and Golden Globe-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. CNN's Stephanie Elam has more on his trailblazing career.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Louis Gossett Jr. played some of T.V., stage, and film's most recognized characters. But behind the scenes, he was an activist with an audacious goal. Ending racism. Gossett debuted on stage as a teenager. A basketball injury had knocked him off the court. He signed up for an acting class and found his calling.

LOUIS GOSSETT JR., ACTOR: I grew up with this ability to seek anything without the shadows of my mind.

ELAM (voiceover): That first Broadway role was in a play aptly named "Take A Giant Step." Other parts followed, "Like The Blacks" and "A Raisin in the Sun." Gossett continued to hone his craft with an eye toward Hollywood, taking classes alongside Marilyn Monroe and Martin Landau. But as a black actor, it wasn't easy.

GOSSETT JR.: I had really learned the importance of what it takes to survive in this town. And I had to act as if I was a second class. That to ingest the oldest of being an African American person in America. ELAM (voiceover): In 1961, Gossett made his silver screen premiere in the film version of "A Raisin in the Sun." During the 70s, he appeared in several Blaxploitation films but struggled to land significant and good-paying roles. That all changed in 1977 when he played Fiddler in the groundbreaking T.V. miniseries "Roots."

GOSSETT JR.: Pay me a song. I watched the (INAUDIBLE)

ELAM (voiceover): Gosset initially didn't want the part. He explained in this Television Academy Foundation interview.

GOSSETT JR.: I started doing the research, and I realized there's no such thing as an all-the-time. And those particular people -- those different sections, those particular people, if they had not survived, I wouldn't be sitting here.

ELAM (voiceover): He earned an Emmy for his breakout performance in "Roots." But it was his 1982 portrayal of a marine drill instructor.

GOSSETT JR.: You said you wanted to meet me in private.

ELAM (voiceover): And an officer and a gentleman that thrust Gosset into Bonafide stardom.

GOSSETT JR.: I was the only black actor that went up for the officer and gentleman apart. And I got it.

ELAM (voiceover): Gossett won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

GOSSETT JR.: Look at me when I talk to you.

ELAM (voiceover): He went on to play more tough military roles in the Iron Eagle movies, and the miniseries "Sadat," where he portrayed the late Egyptian leader. In 1992, he won a Golden Globe playing civil rights activist Sidney Williams, and HBO's "The Josephine Baker Story." But then, the actor's career fell flat. By the early 2000s, he was hooked on drugs and alcohol. Addictions he said were fueled by racism experienced throughout his career.

By 2006, Gossett was sober and eager to deal with racism head-on. He started Eracism, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to ending racial prejudice, starting with youngsters. Early in 2010, Gossett announced he had prostate cancer, then went on to have a distinguished decade, mostly in T.V. shows like "Madam Secretary," and HBO's "Watchmen." Through it all, he continued to fight racism and set an example as an actor, as an activist, and as a gentleman.


CAMEROTA: What a life. Louis Gossett Jr. was 87 years old. And we'll be right back.


[11:39:02] CAMEROTA: There's new info about a Mount Everest-sized volcano on the surface of Mars. Scientists think they've pinpointed this massive volcano that's been apparently hiding in plain sight for decades. CNN's Tom Foreman joins us now with the pictures. Tom, why did it take so long to spot this?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They weren't looking in the right place.


FOREMAN: It's -- the reason it took so long to spot this is because it is not wildly evident. For example, if you look at a topographic map of Mars, yes, you can see high points here. Mars has some really, really high mountains on it. You can look at them and say, oh yes, there it is. Right there. There it is.

The problem is, that's not where it is. Where it is, is right over here. This is the new volcano that they found. It doesn't look like a volcano at all. So, when you see it in this form, again, it just looks like sort of a sprawled-out area here, just not a good-looking thing at all, and yet, it really does seem to make a difference because they believe that this is a massive spread out volcano that has eroded a tremendous amount over time, so much so that if you dropped it down here, one end of it would be on New York, one would be on Washington, D.C.


So, it's covering you know, over 200 miles. And it's tremendously high, despite that. You mentioned being near the Mount Everest level, sure. The thing is, Mars has other mountains that are much taller than Mount Everest.

So, you can see how those would attract attention. People would say some of those may be the remnants of volcanoes as well. They wouldn't necessarily spot this one. But this is the one they most recently found and they're very excited about it, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Why is that, Tom?

FOREMAN: Well, I'm glad you asked. They're asked -- they're excited for a couple of reasons. One, because if it is here, it's flat, it spread out, they've located a landing area kind of near the Caldera -- the remains of the caldera where they would be able to put a robotic probe down or people if we ever get there.

And the main thing they're excited about is this. They think that underneath that, there may be a vast sheet of glacial ice. And that means water. And water is a big deal when you travel here. Hydrogen, oxygen, rocket fuel, survival for human beings, all of that matters.

And it's a bonus too, the location of this. Because if we're talking about this being on the equator of Mars, which is where it is, during the daytime, at the height of temperature, it can feel like 70, 80 degrees right there. That's a really good working temperature. I will warn you. At night, it goes to like 200 below zero Fahrenheit. But in the daytime, that's a good working environment.

So, what these people are saying is maybe this is the place we should be looking at where humans could do work when and if we ever get to Mars. In the meantime, go to Iceland, and go to Hawaii if you want to see a volcano. But there's one waiting out there.

CAMEROTA: Tom, that is very, very cool.


CAMEROTA: I remember to pack a parka for that.

FOREMAN: Yes, exactly. And boots.

CAMEROTA: Yes, exactly.

FOREMAN: All right.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for showing us that.

FOREMAN: Great to see you.

CAMEROTA: All right. The Beehive is buzzing today as Beyonce drops her highly anticipated country album act to "Cowboy Carter."



CAMEROTA: That, of course, is Beyonce's take on the classic Dolly Parton song "Jolene." There are 26 more tracks for Queen Bee fans, just saddle up and listen to. The album also includes a beautiful cover of The Beatles song "Blackbird." And cameos from Willie Nelson, Post Malone, and Miley Cyrus.

Even Elmo is getting into the act, posting this picture and saying "This ain't Texas. This is Sesame Street." That's awesome.

All right, it was a bittersweet 16 for some basketball teams last night. The latest on March Madness and all of the busted brackets. That's next. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CAMEROTA: This morning, an underwater mystery in the Florida Keys. Fish there are showing some odd behaviors like spinning around and upside-down. CNN's Bill Weir is on the scene.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, there are about a couple dozen different scientists at different departments of the states and academia here in Florida trying to solve the mystery of the spinning fish in the Florida Keys. This whole thing started back in the fall, the first multiple reports of the odd behavior of small pinfish, Goliath Grouper, the big-endangered sawfish, all spinning, somersaulting, acting in obvious distress. Some of the sawfish actually beaching themselves into mangroves and essentially killing themselves.

Usually, they lose maybe five sawfish a year in Florida. This is an endangered species. They've lost a few dozen as a result of this. Now, they've tested for everything from Red Tide to pollution to try to figure out if that has anything to do with it. Low oxygen levels, perhaps.

All of that has come out negative right now. And so, the number one suspect is a tiny single-celled algae. It lives at the bottom of the ocean that eat seagrass called Gambierdiscus. And it creates a neurotoxin that can cause strange behavior in fish.

They have anecdotal evidence that some of these fish that are acting crazy have moved -- have moved to clean water and it stops. So, now they have to duplicate those conditions to try to exactly figure out if this stuff is now supercharged as a result of warmer oceans. The temperatures here in the Keys last year hit almost a hundred degrees. Super stressful to all marine life in Florida as well.

But this is a new one. And so, it could take months to figure out. There are so many samples to sort through. A lot of folks doing volunteer science to try to figure it out at this level.

There are no warnings against eating seafood coming out of Florida as a result of this. Although, you're normally warned against eating Barracuda and other sorts of grouper that might have neurotoxins in them. They don't think that's associated in this case. But it's troubling and it's worth paying attention to. And we'll stay on it to figure out more. Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: Bill Weir, fascinating. Thank you. OK. The NCAA tournament brought the madness again. Alabama and Clemson punched their tickets to the Elite Eight with big upsets last night over two of the title favorites. CNN's Andy Scholes joins me now.


CAMEROTA: Andy, please explain everything I just said.


SCHOLES: Well, Alisyn, is your bracket in good shape? Do you -- do you still got your final four?

CAMEROTA: I skipped it this year.

SCHOLES: Oh, what a surprise.


SCHOLES: But I will say, Alisyn, you know I'm not sure many people did have in their bracket a fourth-seed Alabama taken on a sixth-seed Clemson with the shot to go to the Final Four. But you know, this is why we love March Madness. You never know what's going to happen.

And Alabama, they can thank senior Grant Nelson for advancing. Down one under 40 seconds to go. Nelson the bucket there plus the foul. He made the free throw to put Bama up two. Then Nelson, big-time block on RJ Davis on the other end.

Then, with a second left, Nelson another block to seal the win. He finished at 24 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks as Bama pulled off the big upset beating North Carolina 89 to 87. They're having a grand old time in the locker room to tie into the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004. Just the second time in program history.

They're going to face sixth-seed Clemson in the Elite Eight. The tigers taken down two-seed Arizona 77 to 72 last night. Clemson didn't even make the tournament the past few years but now they're in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1980. And Tigers' Head Coach Brad Brownell, he said he's super proud of this group.


BRAD BROWNELL, CLEMSON HEAD COACH: I've got an older team. These guys have seen a lot, done a lot, and experienced success. And so, you know just really happy that they were able to withstand it. And we executed some things really well down the stretch.


SCHOLES: All right now, the defending champs meanwhile, they just continued to just dominate. The Huskies beat San Diego State in a rematch of last year's title game 82 to 52 last night. UConn has only trailed in this tournament for 28 seconds. So, they've now won nine straight tournament games by double digits.


DAN HURLEY, UCONN HEAD COACH: We suck at winning close games, so you know, you got to go with the alternative.


SCHOLES: Yes. Dan Hurley there. They certainly are doing the alternative. Now, where you got four more Sweet 16 games on the schedule tonight including a doubleheader on our sister channel TBS and TruTV. And it's all it was well, streaming on Max.

And finally, before we go, let's show you how Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood celebrated his team's win over Iowa State. Coming in with the water gun, shirtless, in the head. The Allini making their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2005. And, Alisyn, what better way to celebrate than a good old water gunfight in the locker room?

CAMEROTA: I can't think of one. Andy Scholes, thank you very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: And we'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CAMEROTA: Today, Christians around the world observed Good Friday ahead of Easter Sunday. In Jerusalem, worshippers marked the holy day with a procession on the city's Via Dolorosa representing the path Jesus walked on his way to his crucifixion. And at the Vatican, the passion celebration is getting underway at St. Peter's Basilica. The Vatican says Pope Francis wrote his own meditations for the Way of the Cross of the Colosseum later today.

CNN Vatican Correspondent Chris Lamb joins us now. Chris, I -- we know the pope has had some health challenges lately. How does he seem?

CHRISTOPHER LAMB, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this is a very intense and demanding time of year for any pope, let alone Pope Francis who's 87-years-old, and as you say, has had various health challenges. He caused a bit of a scare last Sunday during the Palm Sunday mass when he decided to not give his homily, which some speculated was down to health concerns. But since then, he's shown he's determined to be as involved as possible in all of the liturgies of Holy Week.

And he is about to get underway presiding at the Passion of the Lord service in St. Peter's Basilica, a long and intense liturgy that commemorates Jesus Christ's suffering and death. And later today -- tonight, Rome time, he will be at the Coliseum for the Stations of the Cross service, which again marks Jesus' suffering and death. And the pope has in an unusual move, written each of the meditations for this service and he's covered a range of topics in them from online hatred to injustices against women. So, he is showing his determination to be as involved as possible in Easter. And he will be on Easter Sunday celebrating mass and giving his message to the world from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right. Thank you very much. It's good to see him there. Chris Lamb, thank you.

All right. Before we go, if you're looking for something to read over the holiday weekend, my memoir is now officially out. It's called "Combat Love." It's about my turbulent teenage years and the very bumpy path I took to achieve my dream of becoming a news anchor.

It's a deeply personal and raw story. I would love for you to buy it and read it. It's now available at bookstores nationwide.

Thank you for joining me in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Stay with CNN. "INSIDE POLITICS" with Dana Bash starts right now.