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King Charles

Blinken: Release Of Hostages Is My Number One Responsibility; Billy Crystal Remembers His Friend Norman Lear; Trump: I Won't Be A Dictator "Except For Day One". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 06, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Norman Lear, a World War II veteran, legendary TV producer, political activist, he lived in the moment, all his 101 years. He will be missed.

I'll be back in an hour, along with Dana Bash, for reaction to tonight's Republican debate. Before that, "KING CHARLES."

Gayle and Charles, good to see you. What's on the program tonight?

GAYLE KING, CNN HOST: I love that you talked -- you talked about Norman Lear, because we are certainly talking about him too, tonight. I think everybody had a favorite Norman show, Anderson. And, at one point, he had five of the top 10 shows, at one point.


KING: That's how great he was.

CHARLES BARKLEY, CNN HOST: And I think the main thing, the diversity. When I got a chance to spend a day with him, just talking about diversity, he's the first person that started that. And we should be thankful for him.

KING: Yes, we're talking about him, tonight. We've got Billy Crystal, who knew Norman very well. We're very excited.

We have lots to do, this evening, Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Look forward to it. Have a great night.

KING: Thank you. You too.


BARKLEY: Hey, Gayle.

KING: Hey, Mr. Barkley. You know what I was thinking? Hello, yes, it's Charles Barkley.

BARKLEY: Stop Gayle.

KING: And I was feeling (ph) there walking. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gayle.


BARKLEY: Do you think it's right or fair that the United States has to be the policeman for the entire world?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not for the entire world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the world looks to us. So, we need to have a conscience.

KING: If you could pick anyone for president, who would it be?


KING: Anyone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to be presented with some different candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone under the age of 50.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the CNN Studios, in New York City, it's KING CHARLES.

BARKLEY: We're not going to waste your time.



KING: I'm Beyonce. But you can call me Gayle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Charles Barkley.

BARKLEY: Let's call the shit (ph) out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken; the legendary Billy Crystal; CNN's Audie Cornish; and comedian Roy Wood Jr.

KING CHARLES starts now.

KING: Going in. Going in.



KING: "To a deluxe apartment in the sky," you are listening to that song, of course. It's a theme song of "The Jeffersons," one of the many television shows that Norman Lear made possible. So, you're probably saying, you know why we're saying it. You heard

the news that Norman Lear passed away, yesterday.

And I talked to his daughter, Kate, earlier today. I was telling Charles. I talked to his daughter, Kate. And she said he died very peacefully, at home, surrounded by people that he loved.

There was laughing. And there was singing. And one of the songs they were playing were the theme songs, Charles, to some of his shows. And they played that particular song. And I just think that's such a fitting way to know that that's how Norman left us.

BARKLEY: Well, I had the pleasure of spending a day with him. And it was one of the most incredible days of my life. And he was telling me about when he wanted to put Black people on television, they said--

KING: Yes.

BARKLEY: --"Under no circumstance that we're going to put Black people on television." And he says, "What?"

KING: Yes.

BARKLEY: And he started sliding them in, on "All in the Family." And you had "The Jeffersons." You had "Good Times."

KING: Yes.

BARKLEY: I mean, man, what a legendary man. I didn't realize until we saw the piece that he also was a veteran. So, shout out to all the veterans out there.

KING: That's right.

BARKLEY: But man, what an incredible life and legacy.

KING: That's right. He changed the world.

We're going to talk more about Norman Lear, in just a few minutes, because Billy Crystal is here. He's going to join us, right here on the set. He was very close to Norman Lear. And he credits Norman Lear, in many ways, with starting his career.

So, this is our second show. It's your new favorite show, we're hoping. It's called KING CHARLES. And we'd like to say this. We are not a show of record. We are a show of interest. Charles and I say this all the time. We want to talk with and about the people, who shape our culture, people like Norman Lear and Billy Crystal.

But we also want to talk to people, who are at the center of the most important issues, facing the world.

And tonight, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, sat down with us. It was his first CNN primetime interview.

And let me tell you guys, this was such a big deal, to all of us that Charles Barkley -- tell him what you did with your eyebrows, dear.

BARKLEY: I got my eyebrows threaded. You're going to be with the Secretary. You got to get your eyebrows threaded.

Number one, we hope you all liked the show. And we hope like here, you all got Nielsen boxes.

KING: Yes. But I was surprised that getting threaded eyebrows was part of your beauty routine. But that's a whole another story.

BARKLEY: I want everybody to see this, Gayle.

KING: Yes, we all see it.

We appreciate it. Don't we? We appreciate it.

We talked to Secretary Blinken, to talk about his efforts, to mediate the war between Israel and Hamas, how it's affecting him personally. And it has. His guiding mantra, he told us that. And the ongoing struggle to reunite hostages with their families. And that's where we began the conversation.


KING: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. We're very glad that you're on the program, tonight.

We've been looking forward to this conversation. Haven't we, Charles?

BARKLEY: This is pretty special.

KING: Yes. We think it's very special.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Great to be with both of you. Gayle, Charles, thanks for having me.

KING: Yes, we feel that too.

Let's talk about the hostages, if we could. The talks have broken down. The war has resumed. And of course, everybody's concern, worldwide, is about the fate of the hostages.

I realize it's all hands on deck. All countries are working to secure their hostages, to get them home safely, to get all the hostages home.


But I'm wondering, is the Biden administration doing anything specifically, to get the release, of the American hostages, realizing we want all the hostages home.

BLINKEN: Yes, Gayle, we're at this every single day. And it's my number one responsibility, I know the President feels this, his number one responsibility, to look out for any American, who's in harm's way abroad, and especially those who are being held hostage, being held captive in some way. I've met with the families. I've heard directly from them. And that's the thing that motivates me the most. We will not rest until we get every single one.

KING: Yes, it's not enough. All the families.

I always say this, Mr. Secretary that for all these hostages, they're numbers for some people. But the family members, they are somebody's everything.

So, can you share with us, if you can--

BLINKEN: Absolutely.

KING: --specifically what you guys are doing?

BLINKEN: Look, you'll understand, I can't get into the details. Because this is literally going on daily, and even more than daily, sometimes even hourly, trying to find a way and angle, to get this -- to get this restarted.

And you're exactly right. These are not -- it's not a question of numbers. These are real people, real lives, real families, whose lives have been torn upside down. I've got photographs of all of them.

KING: Yes.

BLINKEN: It's real, for me. It's real, for the President. And we're on this.

Unfortunately, Hamas gets the vote. And Hamas stopped releasing hostages. It reneged on its commitments to Israel, and to everyone else concerned. They chose to end this, this process of releasing hostages. They need to choose to start it again.

BARKLEY: You asked Israel to take precaution, as far as civilians, in Gaza. Is that actually possible?

BLINKEN: Charles, I think it's important to do two things. First, we got to put this in in perspective.

What happened on October 7th, is something I've never seen in the 30 years that I've been doing this professionally, and for that matter, the 50 years or so that I've been going to Israel, in one way or another. Children executed in front of their parents, parents executed in front of their children, families burned alive. You heard yesterday about the horrific sexual violence--

KING: Yes.

BLINKEN: --the rapes of so many young women. What was done deliberately, intentionally with the brutality that really I've encountered almost nowhere else, in the many years that I've been doing this.

So, and then you have this terrorist group, Hamas, do that, retreat to Gaza, and intentionally embed itself, with civilians, with innocent men, women and children, in and under apartment buildings, in and under hospitals, in and under mosques, in and under schools.

So, it's very, very challenging, for Israel, to do what it needs to do, to try to make sure that this never happens again, and getting at Hamas. But having said that, and as we said, from day one, they nonetheless have an obligation, to do everything possible, to protect civilians, to distinguish between terrorists, and innocent men, women and children.

KING: And that part doesn't seem to be going so well, Mr. Secretary--

BLINKEN: And this is something that we've been on.

KING: --about keeping the civilians safe. Because the civilians are dying, including thousands of children. And I think that's what's so heartbreaking, for everybody, around the world.

BLINKEN: It's gut--

KING: What happens--

BLINKEN: It's gut-wrenching.

KING: Yes, yes.

BLINKEN: It's gut-wrenching, for all of us.

But what we're seeing now is we're seeing some, I think, important steps being taken. As they're operating, they're beginning to operate, in the south of Gaza, after operations in the north.

And in the south, what we're seeing -- and I said to them very clearly, when I was there just a week ago, we cannot have a repeat of what happened in the north, in the south, in terms of harm being done to civilians, and also making sure that humanitarian assistance is getting to people, who need it, who are in desperate need of food, water, shelter.

So, what we're seeing is areas clearly designated by Israel that are safe areas, where there's not going to be firing or the military. We've seen efforts to make sure that people know that they need to move and not in -- not the entire city, but just discrete neighborhoods. So, that's positive.

On the other hand, there's more that has to happen that needs to be done, making sure that people have safe corridors, in order to get from areas that could be in danger, to places where there'll be safe, making sure that those areas, where they're going to have the proper resources, have the food, have the water, have the medicine, to care for them, while they're in those areas.

So, there are a number of things that need to happen. We're on this with them every single day.

BARKLEY: My son-in-law is an amazing man and a great husband. He's also Jewish. And you're Jewish. He's taken this Israel thing very personally.


And how are you feeling? How does it affect you? Because he's struggling. How do you, as a Jewish man, how are you handling the entire situation mentally?

KING: And the stepson of a Holocaust survivor too, which I think adds another layer of pain, in this particular story.

BLINKEN: Well, of course, it's affected me personally. And I've talked about that a little bit. It's affected me personally.

Because, yes, my late stepfather survived the Holocaust. He was in the concentration camps, in Majdanek, and Dachau, and Auschwitz.

And then, my father's father, in a different generation, the turn of the last century, got chased out of, actually what's now Ukraine, by pogroms that were designed to kill or chase Jews away.

So, when I saw what happened, on October 7th, of course, it had a personal resonance. It had a resonance that goes to the history, of the Jewish people, especially by the nature, the savagery of the attacks that were committed.

But having said that, I'm an American. I have the awesome responsibility and privilege of being Secretary of State, and representing all of the American people, around the world, on behalf of the President. And as I'm doing my job, to the best of my ability, I'm trying to make sure that reflecting America's interests, America's values, and doing what's right for our country.

BARKLEY: How safe -- how safe -- two questions. How safe are Jewish students, in college? And where is the line between hate speech and freedom of speech?

BLINKEN: Charles, we're seeing this every day, play out on our campuses. And while I'm focused on the world, beyond our borders? Like anyone else, I'm reading, hearing about what's happening, on some campuses, talking to my own relatives, who have kids, who are college- age, who've been on the receiving end of this.

And it's deeply, deeply disturbing, and more, to see some of the hate that we're hearing, on college campuses, the expressions of vitriol, the intimidation of students, just for being who they are. And that's something that is not entirely new. But it's sort of come out from beneath the rock, since October 7th.

And by the way, I'm also deeply disturbed about the same kind of hatred, and vitriol, being directed against Muslim Americans, Arab Americans. We see this in all different directions.

And we have to get back to a place, where people on all of our campuses can feel safe, being who they are, what they are, and saying what they believe. KING: I think you raise a really good point, about feeling safe, and being able to speak, because I know so many people are struggling with, even how to have a set -- even how to have a conversation about this, Mr. Secretary.


KING: No matter what you say, no matter what you say, or how you say it, you are immediately slammed by somebody.

How can we have this conversation intelligently and respectfully, with all these different points of view?

BLINKEN: Well, my humble opinion is this. Here's where it starts. It starts with stopping something. And what we need to stop is the dehumanization of the other.

We have to recognize the humanity in each other. We have to try to put ourselves in other people's shoes. We have to have that openness of mind and openness of heart. And when you have that, you can talk about anything, even the hardest things.

But once you start dehumanizing, once you start seeing someone as another, and somehow not human, that takes -- that takes every guardrail every check away.

KING: Yes, I always say -- I always say that--

BLINKEN: And then it's open season.

KING: I always say that it's very hard to hate up-close.

BLINKEN: Exactly.

KING: Just having, I always say that.

BLINKEN: Exactly.

BARKLEY: What part do our politicians, have they played? Because clearly, if you watch television every day, the Democrats and Republicans, they're not civil to each other. What part do you think they played in us losing our civility?

BLINKEN: Well, one of the great things about this job, being Secretary of State, is I don't do politics. And I don't want to start. But you know?

KING: Well, what do you mean you don't?

BLINKEN: Well President Biden--

KING: Wait a second. Wait a second, Mr. Secretary. Your whole job is politics. What do you mean you don't do politics? You have to explain.

BLINKEN: Yes, around the world. But not here at home.


BLINKEN: But here's the thing. What I've heard President Biden say, for years? Because I've had the immense privilege of working for him, for more than 20 years.


And he will -- he's constantly said, over these years, it's totally appropriate to be questioning each other's judgments, but let's stop questioning each other's motives. Let's assume good motives, good intentions. And then, we can really have a conversation, and we can really try to get to someplace better.

I think that's what we need to do too.

KING: Yes. I like what you said about the conversations that you've had, with President Biden, about questioning people's -- you can have conversations. You don't really need to question people's motives.

But I would like to end with this. What's your personal mantra that gets you through? Because I think I'm going to adopt whatever you're having. What's your personal mantra, Mr. Secretary?


KING: And then, we're going to let you go.

BLINKEN: Oh? You know? It's funny, because one of the -- I had a chance, the other night, to meet Rob Reiner, the great director and actor. And one of -- he made one of my favorite movies of all time, "This Is Spinal Tap." So, this is probably the wrong thing to say.

But I told him, actually, that movie has been my mantra. In it, one of the characters says, at one point, there's such a fine line between clever and stupid.

BARKLEY: That's--

BLINKEN: I try to stay on the right side of that line, every day.


BARKLEY: Right. It's been an honor.

KING: Yes.

BARKLEY: And thank you very much.

KING: Yes. We are very grateful.

BLINKEN: Great to be with you both.

KING: We are very grateful. Thank you, sir.

BLINKEN: Thanks.


KING: He's very busy. So, we were very appreciative, and very grateful.

I like how we ends though, "A fine line between clever and stupid." You think that's true?

BARKLEY: Which part am I?

KING: No, I--

BARKLEY: That was--

KING: I didn't ask -- I didn't say that.

BARKLEY: No, that--

KING: But which part are you? Yes.

BARKLEY: Oh, I was--

KING: No, I didn't say that.

BARKLEY: OK. I was really into calming him to take the time. I know he's got a lot of stuff going on. We really appreciated that.

KING: Uh-huh.


KING: Yes, because he does not do primetime interviews very often. So, we thank you. And we appreciate you, Secretary Blinken, your time and your candor.

Coming up next, Norman Lear, as you know, redefined the face of television. When we come back, the one and only Billy Crystal joins us, to remember the man, he credits, with giving him his start. We'll be right back.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you're Nehak (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love him. I love this man. I love him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember camp Nehak (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Won't forget (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nehak (ph) Nehak (ph) we love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nehak (ph) Nehak (ph) we love you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two bunk 10 we will be true (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two bunk 10 we will be true (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Campfires, cookouts, color war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Campfires, cookouts color war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arts and crafts and much, much more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arts and crafts and much, much more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the golden violet, we love you Nehak (ph) oh you bet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the golden violet, we love you Nehak (ph) oh you bet.


KING: That is so fantastic. That of course is Billy Crystal, in one of his very first TV roles. It was a one-episode part on "All in the Family," written specifically, for Billy Crystal, by one of the true giants of television. That of course is Norman Lear.

Norman Lear died Tuesday, at the age of 101.

You go, Norman.

He's the man that developed classic shows. You know them like "The Jeffersons," and "Sanford and Son."

And Billy Crystal is here with us to remember the great Norman Lear, who you considered a friend.

I love when you sat down, and Charles said, "I'm sorry for your loss," and you said "It really is the world's loss."


KING: That is how it feels, Billy.

CRYSTAL: It is. It is. But you know? 101 years of a great life and a life well-lived?

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: And what he leaves behind, the legacy not only of the shows, but his friends?

KING: Uh-huh.

CRYSTAL: And the laughter, and his dedication to America, his love for this country?

KING: Yes. CRYSTAL: He was an extraordinary, extraordinary man.

KING: He told me once that laughter was one of the best sounds in the world.

But I want to go back to 1975. Here's Billy Crystal on-stage. You're performing. And in the audience is who? And what happens?

CRYSTAL: Norman Lear.

KING: What happens?

CRYSTAL: Yes. It was at The Comedy Store, in L.A. And I was a new guy. And it was only my second trip, to L.A. And they put together the night. I did 20 minutes. And in the audience was Norman, and the great Carl Reiner, who would later become a big part of my life also.

And he came outside, and was standing out there, and it went really well. My head's swimming, like "Well he was there." And he comes out, and he goes, "Billy, Hi, I'm Norman Lear." And I went, "Of course you are."

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: And he said, "Tell me about yourself."

I said, "Well, it's kind of new. I'm still substitute teaching. And I have a year-and-a-half old daughter" and so on. "But this is what I want to do."

And so, he said, "Well, great. I thought it was really good."

Next week, I'm back in Long Beach, Long Island. I'm feeding my daughter, in a highchair. And the phone rings. "Hello. Is this Billy?" "Yes, it is." "Hold on for Norman Lear." I said, "Hello."

"Hey, it's Norman Lear. We met at The Comedy Store."

And it was -- what am I going to say? "I don't recall" like?

KING: "I don't remember you. What do you look like?" Yes.


KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: And he said, "Listen, there's a part coming up on "All in the Family" next week. You play Mike's best friend," who's Rob Reiner. He said, "And I have a feeling about you two that you'd be really great together. And so can you get out here?"

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: I said, "I'm there."

They flew me out. Monday, the work started. And Norman has said to me, "Script's not ready yet. But it will be by Friday. That's how it works here."

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: And we had the first read-through. And he was right. The script wasn't ready. And I watched Rob sort of take over with the writers, and already laying the pathway for who we would become.

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: And it worked out great. And Friday, we taped. And we were saying goodbye to each other. We played best friends. And Rob said, "Why don't we just keep it going?" And 48 years later, here's where we are.

KING: Still keeping it going.

BARKLEY: Why did he care so much about diversity?

CRYSTAL: Because he was a human being.


CRYSTAL: Because he knew inequities.


CRYSTAL: He knew the world should not be this way. You know? And for me, that was always a lesson. I'm a new guy. He gave me the same kind of greeting that he would give to any of the big stars, on the show.

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: He made me feel important. And even said in the writers' meeting, after the read-through, "Listen to him. Listen to him."

KING: And he's talking about you?


KING: "Listen to him."

CRYSTAL: He says "Welcome. You're part of our family now," you know?

KING: Oh? You know what -- you know what he's--

CRYSTAL: And but Gayle?

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: The important thing is that that relationship from that one week, with Rob, led to a friendship, which led to my being in three of his wonderful movies. And that they're all in the Library of Congress--

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: --which it was a big part of my getting the Kennedy Honor, last week.

KING: Yes. And Norman Lear was the oldest Kennedy Center Honoree. You brought a picture. I want to get to that, in just a second.



KING: But Kate, his daughter said her dad was always fearless, committed, believed the American public was smart.


KING: And wanted to talk about life, hard things, and uncomfortable truths.

You think that's true?

CRYSTAL: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Yes.


KING: He showed that time and time again.

CRYSTAL: Yes. But his, you know, we were all in his family. The United States was all in his family. That's what -- and then you look at this, just for "All in the Family?"

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: What he -- what he went after in episodes, there was rape. There was -- there was racism.

KING: Abortion.

CRYSTAL: There was abortion. There was -- it was, besides being wonderfully funny, every week, you tuned in to find out something about ourselves.

BARKLEY: You know, what's amazing? I didn't know that until we were talking about in the beginning, he was a veteran.


BARKLEY: And I was like -- first, I have a great admiration for two people, teachers and veterans.

Did he ever talk about that?

CRYSTAL: Yes, very much so. When he was -- when he was a young man, against his mother's wishes, he enlisted because he hated what the Nazis were doing to the Jews. And being a very proud Jewish man, he didn't want her to know. And he did. He flew, I don't know, how many missions. It was like 50 missions, or

something, bombing missions, in Germany. And he was very devoted to that and very devoted to making sure that they got the right care, when they got home.

BARKLEY: That's kind of a weird, dynamic soldier, TV producer. That's A to Z.

CRYSTAL: Yes. Well it's that -- everyone fights different kinds of battles. You know? But he's like, for "All in the Family," he stood up to the network, because that -- the cast that we grew to love was, I believe the third, the third pass--

KING: Pass.

CRYSTAL: --at getting it right.

KING: To get it right, yes.


KING: As I said, he was one of the oldest Kennedy Center Honorees. You were the new class of a Kennedy Center Honoree. And you went to him, to tell him about your Kennedy Center Honoree. Tell us what that meeting was like?

CRYSTAL: Well, when--

KING: The time you got to spend together?

CRYSTAL: When it was announced, like--

KING: And you brought a picture.

CRYSTAL: --I came on your show.

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: And then the same day, we went on strike. So suddenly, I'm out of work.

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: But Norman was on my mind, because of what I told you, about hooking me up with Rob, and what that led to. So, I--

BARKLEY: There's the picture.

KING: There's the picture, Billy, yes.

CRYSTAL: --I went and told him. And as I was leaving, we had lunch together. And I had the feeling I might not see him, again.

KING: You did?

CRYSTAL: It was just that -- and he was wonderful. KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: He was in great mood, so funny. But I took that picture.


CRYSTAL: And I sent it to you today, because--

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: --it just it was very poignant. There he is. The house he was staying at was very high, above Los Angeles. And that's where he is now.

KING: And wasn't he still making plans? I mean, he told me he was still making plans.

CRYSTAL: He said -- kept saying to me every time I saw him, and I was at his 101st birthday, "I want to gather everybody and do something really important for us."


CRYSTAL: But the "Us" he meant was America that he did not like what was happening, politically, and in between, all of our people, the hate, the distrust, the divisions, he wanted to heal that. He wanted to do one last big, he said, "I don't know what. Is it a concert? Is it a something -- but there's something we got to do together."

BARKLEY: Have you?

CRYSTAL: You know?

BARKLEY: Like, sometimes in my private moments, I'd say, "Man, what a great life I've had."

How often do you, when you are in your private moments say, "Man, I've had an amazing life, and I have accomplished some great things?"

CRYSTAL: There were times I let myself have that.


CRYSTAL: And this past weekend, with the Kennedy Center Honor?


CRYSTAL: From the time it was announced, I was very emotional, to actually still now, because your life sort of passes in front of you, and your career. And if they -- if they're similar. My life is different than my career.


CRYSTAL: And you're reminded of all of the moments and all the people who helped you along the way, and all of the ups and the downs and the middles.

KING: All moments, yes.

CRYSTAL: And sometimes, the middles are harder than the downs. And I'm just very grateful that I've had a chance to do what I want to do, my entire life, and have done it pretty much, my entire life.

KING: And when I think about Norman, though, because he was such a big part of your life, I think it's not even in sadness, I feel. I feel grateful that we had him in our lives.


KING: And it really is a time to celebrate his life. Do you feel that too that--

CRYSTAL: Yes, I'm not -- I'm -- I don't have a sadness.

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: I'm sad that I won't be able to talk to him.

KING: Yes, understood.

CRYSTAL: And joke with him.

One morning, he called me at 9 AM, out of the blue, and said, "Just want to tell you, I love you. Come on over. Let's have lunch. And bring some friends. Let's have some laughs."


CRYSTAL: And that's what it was about.

KING: Yes.

CRYSTAL: It's a beautiful thing.

KING: Yes.

You're so lucky that you got to know him.

CRYSTAL: But you know?

KING: He always ended "To be continued."

CRYSTAL: But I think everyone feels like they got to know him a little bit.

KING: It's true.

BARKLEY: You said that pretty well.

KING: We all felt, yes.

BARKLEY: America loss. KING: America's loss.

BARKLEY: Yes, really.

KING: Thank you, Billy Crystal, for coming.

CRYSTAL: Thank you.

KING: Because I know you're rehearsing tonight. We really appreciate it.

CRYSTAL: Yes. My love to the Lear family.

KING: Yes.


KING: Yes, we feel that too.


Ahead, the former President was asked if he planned on becoming well, a dictator. And he didn't really say no, to that question. We'll talk that over with a former "Daily Show" correspondent. That's Roy Wood Jr. And CNN's Audie Cornish. Right after the break.

You're watching KING CHARLES. We'll be right back.



SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I want to go back to this one issue though, because the media has been focused on this, and attacking you.


HANNITY: Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?

TRUMP: Except for day one.


HANNITY: Except for?

TRUMP: Look, he's going crazy.

I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill.

HANNITY: That's not -- that's -- that's not--

TRUMP: Oh, no.

HANNITY: That's not retribution.


HANNITY: I got it.

TRUMP: I'm going to be--


TRUMP: I'm going to be -- you know, he keeps--


TRUMP: We love this guy. He says, "You're not going to be a dictator, are you?" I said "No, no, no, other than day one." We're closing the border, and we're drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I'm not a dictator.

HANNITY: Well that--



HANNITY: That sounds to me like you're going back to the policies, when you were president. All right.

TRUMP: That's exactly it.



KING: That was former President, Donald Trump, last night, saying what some people say the quiet part out loud.

Let's discuss with comedian and actor, Roy Wood Jr.; and our friend, she's CNN's Audie Cornish.

Good to have you guys, here.

ROY WOOD JR., COMEDIAN: How you all doing?


KING: We're doing good.

BARKLEY: We're doing great.

KING: Aren't we doing good?

BARKLEY: We are doing awesome.

KING: Yes. I was looking at Charles' shoes, saying, "Are you wearing those tonight?" You like the shoes?

WOOD JR.: I mean, they look nice.

CORNISH: There's a dash of orange there.

WOOD JR.: He's right there.

CORNISH: He's, yes.

WOOD JR.: Don't ask me about his shoes, in front of him.

KING: He said his thing -- he's going to--

WOOD JR.: Didn't ask.

KING: --have a new pair of shoes, every show. I like that.

BARKLEY: Every week.

KING: I like that.

WOOD JR.: I respect that.


KING: Audie, start us off. When he says dictator for a day, what does that mean to you?

CORNISH: Well, what people would probably say he means is that he's going to do a lot of whether they call Executive orders. So, a lot of just issuing rules from the White House.

The problem is, in the past, when he has said things, like this, it turns out he meant it, like if you -- "Do you think if you lose the campaign, you'll walk away?" As we know, he did not.

KING: But, you know, Maya Angelou used to always say, "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." He's--

CORNISH: People have learned that lesson.

KING: Yes.


KING: But when he says dictator for a day did that -- did that trouble you, just a bit, Roy Wood Jr.?

WOOD JR.: Yes. Because if somebody said, "Well, I'm not going to punch you, except for the first day," like that's? That means that you are coming in and--

KING: Are going to be punched.

WOOD JR.: --and being abusive. So, I think it's something that people have to be mindful of.

I think more often than not, it seems like a lot of the Republican strategy is just undo whatever the Democrats have done. And let -- that just seems to be the agenda more often than not. So of course, if Trump is elected, he's going to come.

CORNISH: But one thing about that clip that was funny is like, everybody was sort of laughing, right? Like, "Yay, ha-ha-ha, who among us would not want to be a dictator for a day?"

But how do you hear this? You're a person, who everyone thinks is like, "Oh, he's telling it, like it is. So, plain-spoken," when you--


KING: Oh that Charles is telling it like it is.

CORNISH: Yes, Charles is like that.

KING: Yes.

CORNISH: So, when you hear Trump speak like that, do you take it seriously, literally, figuratively? Do you seek in (ph) in somebody who speaks in a way that regular people can identify with?

BARKLEY: No, I -- the thing that concerns me about him, if he were to win again, I think he would spend the next four years, just trying to pay back people, who have said or did anything to him. And--

KING: Would all be about retribution.

BARKLEY: It'll all be about retribution.


BARKLEY: And we got people out here, who need money for their bills, and food, and things like that. So, I don't care who the president is. You're supposed to take care of the people. It ain't about retribution. It ain't about what people said about you, in the last couple years. And that's one reason I'm not a big Trump fan. I'm just not.

Because, like I say, it's the President of the United States. It's ain't for no smaller group of nutty people. It's everybody. I don't care if you know -- because if -- you know me? You know -- Independent. And I don't have anything against Republicans. I don't have anything against Democrats.

KING: His supporters would object to you, calling them nutty people, though.

BARKLEY: Well, I only call them that, because they are.

KING: Well.

BARKLEY: They are crazy.

KING: Well--

BARKLEY: They are like your drunk friend. Like once your friend's drunk, there's nothing you can say to him, like, can you imagine? Let me ask you this, because you ever seen the movie "A Time to Kill?"

KING: Yes, I have, actually.

BARKLEY: And when the guys says--

KING: It's John Grisham, yes.

WOOD JR.: Yes.

BARKLEY: --can you imagine President Obama was acting, like this dude been acting? So, they'd be like, "This dude cannot be president."

KING: Yes.

BARKLEY: He's not even presidential. I mean, you all support -- like, even George Bush, Senior -- Junior, excuse me, even though you might -- I might not agree with his policy?

KING: Policies.

BARKLEY: But he acted like a president, like you're supposed to be like, superior. You're supposed to lead.

KING: I know. But Charles?

BARKLEY: You are the leader of the most important place in the world. You're supposed to carry yourself a certain way.

KING: But we -- I agree on that. But we can't discount that there are a lot of people that feel he is presidential that he is a good leader.

Let's talk about Joe Biden, who raised a couple of eyebrows, the other day, when he said that if Trump wasn't in the race, he probably wouldn't be running.

Did that surprise you that he said that?

CORNISH: I know what that comment was for.

KING: He said, "If Trump wasn't running"--


KING: "I'm not sure I'd be running."

CORNISH: Is that supposed to make us feel better, I mean?

KING: Do not let him win.

CORNISH: You know what I'm saying, like?

KING: Yes.

CORNISH: Large parts of the country have pretty much said they don't want this match-up again.

KING: Yes.

CORNISH: I don't know. Am I the only one who's heard that? Like it does feel like--

KING: No, I've heard that too.

WOOD JR.: Yes.

CORNISH: Nobody wants this rematch. And yet--

WOOD JR.: Well what are you going to do about it?


WOOD JR.: What can you do about it?

CORNISH: Vote for someone else in a primary for one, right, like?

But yes, I mean, I think Biden has always said that he got into the race, because of Trump. And now, he's trying to give people a reason, why he's still in it, even though more and more people are asking, "Hey, shouldn't you have stepped aside? Maybe you could have let another generation come in."

KING: I mean, and now as we--

BARKLEY: I respect--

KING: Go ahead, go ahead.

BARKLEY: I respect President Biden. He's had an amazing life, an amazing career. But I personally think he's too old to be president. That's just my personal opinion.

CORNISH: Old in what way?


WOOD JR.: Please don't -- please don't let them (ph).

CORNISH: No. That's not true.

WOOD JR.: Because he can't ride a bike?

BARKLEY: No, dude. I don't want--

WOOD JR.: That was one time.

BARKLEY: Roy, I don't want a--

WOOD JR.: The bike fall was one time.

BARKLEY: --85-year-old, driving a car, let alone running the country.

CORNISH: There are some bad--

WOOD JR.: What?

CORNISH: --15-year-olds driving a car.

BARKLEY: I know that.


BARKLEY: But they're not going to be the President of the Free World.

WOOD JR.: But--

KING: But some people say--

CORNISH: Do you think you're overlaying your attitude, as an athlete, over the politics?



KING: Oh, good question.


CORNISH: I'm just saying.

KING: Good question.

CORNISH: Athletes are like, there's a time when you get put out to pasture.

KING: Good question.


CORNISH: And that's not how politics work.

BARKLEY: Well that's what's wrong with politics.

WOOD JR.: Well it's different times than 85.

KING: That's right.

BARKLEY: Yes, it--

KING: I was just going to say that, Roy. Because sometimes, people say it's not really so much about the age. It's about the ability.


WOOD JR.: Yes.

BARKLEY: Well he's past the age and the ability.

KING: Well?

BARKLEY: Hey, the guy's been, he's been--

WOOD JR.: Charles.

BARKLEY: --he's been a great man. He's too old to be president. I cannot vote for a guy that old.

CORNISH: Well here's another way to think of it, and sticking with the athlete analogy. At a certain time, it is hard, for certain people, to hang up their jersey, especially if they feel like they've had a good run.

KING: Yes.

CORNISH: And that's a little bit of the vibe--

KING: Also--

CORNISH: --with the President.

KING: --you always hear that power, it's very difficult to give up power. I've heard Charles Barkley. It's very difficult for some people.

Thank you, Audie. Thank you so much.

CORNISH: Thank you.

KING: Roy, can you stay?

BARKLEY: All right. And--

WOOD JR.: He fell off a bike, one time.

BARKLEY: He was.

WOOD JR.: He was just tripping.

BARKLEY: Using the sports analogy, I wish it was like sports. They'd tell you to get the hell out, in sports, if you don't have them, stars.

KING: We're happy to tell you, Roy is going to stay with us, because we want to talk to you about how you bring humor, these days, in a world that comes -- that sometimes comes with people getting all in their feelings, and joking is very hard, today.

We're going to talk to Roy Wood.

You're watching KING CHARLES. We'll be right back.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WOOD JR.: I'm well aware that not everybody in this room knows who I am. So, let's just address the elephant in the room. I know what it is. Half this room think I'm Kenan Thompson.


WOOD JR.: Other half think I'm Louis Armstrong.


WOOD JR.: President Biden thinks I'm the daddy on "Family Matters."



KING: I love that.

We know this man very well. Welcome back to KING CHARLES.

BARKLEY: My homeboy.

KING: That is homeboy, because they're both Alabama.

WOOD JR.: Alabama.


That's a "Daily Show" alum, and Emmy-nominated comedian and actor, Roy Wood Jr. Thank you very much. Headlining this year's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.

Roy, it's so nice. We're having him on twice, tonight.

WOOD JR.: Oh, Charles.

KING: And can we just say about -- can we just go back for just a second? You killed at that White House Correspondents' Dinner.

WOOD JR.: Thank you.

KING: You killed.

WOOD JR.: Thank you. That was a good time.

KING: Knocked it out of the park and ran the bases.

WOOD JR.: That was a -- that was a good time. And I'm glad that I didn't get audited by the government, you know?

BARKLEY: Hey. So, I'm old.


BARKLEY: Not as old as President Biden. But I'm old.

WOOD JR.: You ride a bike though.

BARKLEY: I remember, when you could actually crack a joke, and people actually laugh. Now, you get, quote-unquote "Canceled?" What's the fine line?

WOOD JR.: Do you go, like?


KING: Yes.


WOOD JR.: You get people angry at you.

BARKLEY: Yes. But that can -- if you're not really, really huge?

KING: Yes.

BARKLEY: You can go -- put a -- put on weight.

WOOD JR.: I feel like, when we talk about cancel culture, we're talking about people just having an opportunity, to have an opinion, on something you said. And that's the first time, in our society, where you can have group blowback.

But when we talk about people saying something that makes somebody upset? When you look at just stand-up comedy this year, and some of the biggest comedy specials that came out?

You have a guy, like Nate Bargatze, on Saturday Night Live. You have Matt Rife, like you have all of these comedians, right now, that are just in a moment, Shane Gillis as well, where these people, who have made jokes, they're able to find their audience. And even if they've made a certain group of people upset?

KING: Yes.


WOOD JR.: There are still people coming out to see them, in droves, in the tens of thousands.

KING: But Roy, do you worry then--

WOOD JR.: So, define cancellation.

KING: Oh, well?

WOOD JR.: When you say that like that.

KING: Cancellation is very clear for many people. I won't name names here tonight.

But do you worry, when you're performing, about where to draw the line? WOOD JR.: I don't.

KING: You don't?

WOOD JR.: For me, if there is an attempt at a joke, I believe the comedian deserves the benefit of the doubt. There's a difference in just trying to say something that "Ooh, I said something sensational," versus an actual attempt to set up in a punch line.

The homie comedian, Mike Birbiglia said something to me that I thought was very profound. And that when we talk about comedy now, and this is where I think a big part of the issue lies, is that the bigger issue to me, in stand-up comedy, Birbiglia said, "Comedy only works if everybody agrees on the premise."

KING: Wow.

WOOD JR.: If we don't agree? If I started joking, go Joe Biden's -- "Joe Biden's young enough to be president." But if you don't agree with Biden being young enough to be president, it doesn't matter what the punch line is, on the backside of that because you don't agree with the truth, with my truth.

KING: With your truth.

WOOD JR.: On the front side of it.

KING: Yes, yes.

WOOD JR.: And I think that's the clash just starting to happen at a lot of comedy shows and comedy clubs.

BARKLEY: Is there a double standard between comedy shows, and what you can say on television?

WOOD JR.: Yes, because at a comedy show, the audience is the instantaneous arbiter of whether or not you crossed the line. I mean, you know this from cussing on air, from time to time.


WOOD JR.: FCC definition -- I noticed because I got suspended from radio, in Birmingham, a couple time, the definition of what is indecent is decided by the community that is consuming the matter that's being broadcast, or said.

So, in a live show, if that audience is OK with it, then that gives the viewer a little bit more of an opportunity, to give grace to the performer. Whereas with a television, you don't know who's on the other end of the camera.

KING: That's right.

WOOD JR.: So, if they want to be mad, they can be mad. And most advertisers -- most -- most televisions and networks, they're going to err on the side of the angry, because the angry are the people that can stir the pot, and cost you valuable advertising dollars.

You got freedom of speech, but you don't have freedom from consequence. So, say what you want.

KING: Yes.

WOOD JR.: Just know that you may not be able to say it, everywhere you want to say it.

KING: And freedom of speech comes with responsibility.

But I'm curious about you, Roy, because you did. You killed that day.

You left "The Daily Show" after eight years. I get the sense that it didn't end the way you would like. You had a lot of support in the building, to get that job.

How are you feeling? What are you doing?

WOOD JR.: Right now, I'm back out on the road. I've been touring. Myself and the homie Jordan Klepper, we're doing a couple of dates, like a little weird bizarro Town Hall thing, in January, across a couple of states.

But my time with "The Daily Show," I had an opportunity to be front and center for eight years, and learn.

KING: Yes, and you did it well.

WOOD JR.: Thank you. Thank you. And I got to learn from Trevor Noah. I got to learn from Jon Stewart.


Something that's understated about "The Daily Show" is the level of camaraderie amongst the alum. John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Jon Stewart, like all of these people, Jason Jones, they're all -- Larry Wilmore, they all came together that "Here's what you do. This, this, and this."

KING: Yes, yes, yes.

WOOD JR.: So, right now, I'm trying to do television. I want to do sitcoms. I want to do some network stuff. There's a film I'm writing. There's a book, hopefully that will be sold shortly.

KING: So, let's just say--

WOOD JR.: So, as a matter, I have--

KING: --you are booked and busy, and you got options, and just know we are cheering you on.

WOOD JR.: Yes, but I'm -- but, again, Late Night is evolving.

KING: Yes. WOOD JR.: And so, if there's an opportunity to be anywhere? I mean, you all got enough space on this stage, King.

KING: Yes, yes.

WOOD JR.: King Charles Wood?

KING: Guts to go.



BARKLEY: No problem, my homeboy.

WOOD JR.: That's a no.

KING: Yes.

WOOD JR.: That's a no. OK. I tried.

KING: Alabama, Alabama.

WOOD JR.: I had to shoot my shot.

KING: We are cheering you on, always.

WOOD JR.: Shot my shot.

KING: Thank you, Roy.

Time Magazine says Taylor Swift is Person of the Year.

When we come back, who does Charles Barkley think the Person of the Year is, in 2023? Let's call the tease, people. We'll be right back.



KING: We welcome you back to KING CHARLES.

Time Magazine released their Person of the Year today. Each year, Time selects a person, or persons, who most affected the news, in our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.


And this year, Person of the Year, is who is it Charles Barkley?

BARKLEY: Taylor Swift.

KING: 33-years-old, Taylor Swift, pop superstar, beat out a diverse pool of finalists, including former President Donald Trump's prosecutors, Barbie. Go see the movie, if you haven't seen Have you seen the movie, Barbie?

BARKLEY: Stop it, Gayle.

KING: OK. Go see Barbie.

For the rest of you, Barbie, it's a good movie.

And the other King Charles, the one from Britain, he was also one of the finalists.

So, we made our own list of Persons of the Year. Who did you pick? Who did you pick, dear?

BARKLEY: Well because I'm a sports guy?

KING: Yes.

BARKLEY: I picked two guys.


BARKLEY: Deion Sanders and Jim Harbaugh.

KING: And you picked Deion why?

BARKLEY: Well, because those two guys generated more buzz, on college football, which is right up there, with pro football. It is my favorite sport. Those two guys, whether you have an opinion on, they were the most talked about two people, in sports. So Deion and Jim Harbaugh are my two sports Persons of the Year.

KING: OK. I would have picked -- we need to talk about the ill part, I would have picked internet trolls, because they definitely affected the world. There's so much hatred and cruelty and unkindness, I would have picked them, so the ill.

BARKLEY: Still at the internet?

KING: Yes.

BARKLEY: I don't do any social media.

KING: You don't?

BARKLEY: I do not.

KING: Well, you might be onto something there.

But I would have picked Beyonce and Taylor Swift together, because they had parallel tracks. They were both huge superstars, changed the economy, changed how we went to concerts. They made -- every city they went to they did something for good. So, I was surprised if they're going to pick one?

BARKLEY: I agree. I agree with those two ladies. KING: You could have picked the two of them.

BARKLEY: Unbelievable.

KING: Yes, you could have picked the two of them together.

But Charles, nobody asked us.

BARKLEY: Yes. I don't know why.

KING: Nobody asked us. Because we got lots of ideas.

We thank you for watching KING CHARLES.

You coming back next Wednesday?

BARKLEY: I'll be back, next week.

KING: I'm coming back next Wednesday too, at our regular time, which by the way is 10 o'clock Eastern Time.

You can catch me, tomorrow morning, on your favorite morning show, "CBS Mornings," yes, and at 7 AM.

Kaitlan Collins will be back, tomorrow night.

And we'll hand over the reins, right now, to Anderson Cooper and Dana Bash, for CNN's special coverage of tonight's -- did you know there was a Republican debate, tonight?

BARKLEY: Can't wait to watch it.


That's coming up next. See you next week. Take it easy.