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CNN Live Saturday

Interview with Mike Rowe

Aired July 06, 2002 - 18:20   ET


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Some of your worst fears may be coming to life. That's part of a new television show that's called "Worst Case Scenario." You may have seen the promos out there. It's not only -- it not only shows you what can go wrong, like this incident of driving off a road and sinking into deep water, but also how to survive such an ordeal.

An estimated 350 people die every year in similar car sinking accidents. Joining us to talk about surviving worst-case scenarios is the program's host, Mike Rowe. Thanks for being with us, Mike.

MIKE ROWE, HOST, "WORST CASE SECNARIO": My pleasure, Catherine, thanks for having me.

CALLAWAY: When I first read about this, I was thinking how depressing, we're thinking of these terrible things that can happen to you. But the book that this is based on was a tremendous hit. And, it does give some practical advice, right?

ROWE: It's nothing but practical advice. And, you don't' really have to go too far or stretch your imagination too far to make it applicable in the real world. Just looking at that footage in Texas right now. I mean, those folks know all about a worst-case scenario.

The authors of the book, and, yeah, you're right it was a huge hit, something like 5 million copies were sold. They really touched on something. And, part of the reason I think that the book has been so appealing and part of what we're trying captures in the show is to really put the viewer, however briefly, into these scenarios. It's not so much about what to do if this happen but what to do when it happens.

And, it's not about the other guy. Actually, I should say the other guy is you. So, you know, it's a very -- it's an appeal to get involved, be aware, and essentially get on board with the Boy Scouts who have been saying "be prepared" for the last hundred years or so.

CALLAWAY: Yeah, take their handbook with you. We should also tell everyone that this program will air on TBS, which is of course a sister-network to CNN. This show is not one that we've seen before, really, even though I know that one of the producers is actually a producer of "Survivor," right?

ROWE: Craig Pallechin (ph) was one of the co-executive producers -- there are a lot of smart people involved with this venture. TBS, of course, Sony Tri-Star is involved, and they really did an interesting thing at the outset. They looked at what's going on with reality television. And, I think, made a conscious decision to either go with the trend, or to go against it. And, they went against it.

CALLAWAY: All right, tell us how they went against it, and if you can look at your monitor there and tell us a little bit about what we're seeing. We're showing scenes from the show, now.

ROWE: You know what? I'll have to crane around a little bit, but I don't really see the monitor from where I'm sitting but I have...

CALLAWAY: It's a guy jumping out of an airplane.

ROWE: OK, that guy's name is Andy Judy (ph). He went to jump out of an airplane; he's an experienced jumper. He got halfway out the door; the bottom part of his jumpsuit got caught on the landing gear. He's hanging upside down. If he deploys his chute, he causes the plane to crash. He can't sit up because he's in 115 mile an hour wind and he can't cut himself free because he doesn't have a knife. The pilot has to land the plane, he's underneath it. We take that real life scenario and we show you exactly how to deal with it when it happens to you. Remember, the assumption is it's going to happen.

CALLAWAY: Well, what happened in that case?

ROWE: Well, in that case, the pilot had his own worst-case scenario. He lost his glasses right in the middle of the whole thing. He basically had to land blind. And, he did exactly the right thing, he put himself into a ball and he just held on. And...


ROWE: Well, I hate to give it away but I'll tell you this much; he's still jumping.

CALLAWAY: Oh, that's good, that's good. Thank you for telling us. You didn't want to leave them hanging that much. All right, now tell us about some of the other scenarios that you cover here, not just how do you -- I mean -- the likelihood of most of us hanging off the end of an airplane are not big. But, as we said, driving your car into the water, that's a real possibility. There are other things, right? How to put out a grease fire. Things like that.

ROWE: Endless. Yeah, I mean, the show is formatted kind of like a magazine. So, some segments take care of worst-case scenarios right in your home. A grease fire is a great example. How to get through a plate glass window if you've locked yourself out without cutting yourself to ribbons is another great example.

But, we also do deal with the same kinds of themes that the book suggests. And a segment called Ripped From The Pages, we hire the best stunt people in the world to show you out to get out of quicksand, how to jump off of a building and live, how to get out from a car that is sinking in a lake, how to deliver a baby in a taxicab, how to fend off a shark.

These situations, granted, they sound outrageous but the one thing they all have in common is that that basic animal sense of panic and fear that we've all felt. And it's that thing that we're really trying to address in each example. We want people certainly not to be scared but we don't want them to be complacent. And it seems like those are the two things that most people get to choose from nowadays. Either you're too frightened to travel, or your still out there with this bulletproof invincibility and that's not realistic either.

We want people to be aware and it's our feeling that if we show them scenario after scenario, situation after situation, always giving them away out people will begin to think proactively in many cases for the first time.

CALLAWAY: You know, I think it has happened to everybody. Even, I went on a hike with my younger daughter and we went on the path less chosen. Found ourselves a little disoriented. And, I thought this is one of those scenarios you think will never happen to you and we were able to get back safely but at that point if I could just remember how they made the compass...

LOWE: Exactly. In that moment, that's a very -- that's a memorable feeling you had -- you'll never forget it. We do a segment on the show called Face Off, where we basically take survival experts, Navy Seals, Army Rangers, cops, firemen, all kinds of people...and we let them compete against one another and at the same time give them the random items you find in a car and watch them improvise and get out.

CALLAWAY: We've run out of time, but I have to ask you this because, you know, how does one get the job that you have? I read your resume -- were you in the Baltimore Opera?

ROWE: Yeah, sure, you know what? I was a freelancer in the strictest sense of the word, I did just about anything. I was also an Eagle Scout, Catherine.

CALLAWAY: All right, we want to hear you sing in the program.

ROWE: You know what, that is a worst-case scenario of a whole different kind. I will call my agent.

CALLAWAY: Thanks, Mike. Mike Rowe. You know, we didn't even get time to show the Worst Case Scenario Survival Kit that we had all set up for everyone. It has the basic, you know, matches, flares, come on everybody knows about that you got the mirror, the flares, the drinking water, the lights. All right, we gotta run. We're out of time. Mike, it's been a pleasure, good luck with the show. I hope to talk to you again real soon.

ROWE: I hope so too, Catherine, thanks. Be careful, for crying out loud.

CALLAWAY: I know, I will, I'll be careful. You too.

We'll be right back, stay with us.