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American Morning

Crowds Hit Stores for Black Friday; Egyptian Military to Name New Prime Minister; Helicopter Pilot Survives Crash; 2012 Race; Getting a Jump on Friday; WH: Transfer of Power Must Happen Soon; Awaiting Release of Three Students in Egypt; A Journalist's Nightmare in Egypt; Nail Salon Brawl Caught on Tape; RPT: NBA Resumes Talks; Shots Fired at NC Mall; Ten Injured in Wal-Mart Rush; Occupy Black Friday; Early Sales Booster?; Holiday Movie Season Begins; Dodi Stewart Talks about Movies"

Aired November 25, 2011 - 07:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Let the bargain hunting begin. I'm Carol Costello. Nearly one in four Americans say they plan to shop somewhere on this black Friday. The nervous retailers wonder, how much do they plan to spend?

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: A new day of demonstrations in Egypt. Protesters want the military leadership out ASAP, and the White House is backing them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And like, bang, and the next thing I know I'm unbuckling my belt.


COSTELLO: Mr. Miracle. His helicopter crashed and broke apart. Now you're learning how the pilot survived on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO: Good morning. It's Friday, November 25, the day after Thanksgiving. Ali and Christine are off. Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho along with Carol Costello on this AMERICAN MORNING. Glad you're with us.

COSTELLO: Glad you're with us. Up first, what else, millions of Americans on a mission to shop until they drop. The black Friday bargain hunt has begun.


The second midnight hits they pull back the line, say go in, and it's like a stampede. Everyone just darts in there.


COSTELLO: Boy, did they ever. The official holiday shopping season got started earlier than usual this year. Toys R Us in New York where deep discounts drew large crowds, they opened at 9:00 p.m. eastern record crowds yesterday.

CHO: Meanwhile in Los Angles, look at that. At least 10 people suffered minor injuries when shoppers surged into a Wal-Mart. Police say they are looking for a female customer who apparently used pepper spray on other customers. Occupy black Friday at malls across America, mini tent cities springing up on sidewalks, shoppers desperate for deals, doing whatever it takes to snag them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got here at 5:00 a.m.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometime before 9:00 yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was here since 9:00 last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not? We're young.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's probably a sign of the time. I mean, the economic time. I imagine everybody trying to get a bead up on everybody else.


COSTELLO: George Howell standing live at a Best Buy in Atlanta. But first let's head to Chris Knowles because he's live at Macy's in New York City. Chris, I understand there were maybe a record number of people standing in line to get in Macy's at midnight?

CHRIS Knowles, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was a little bit different scene out there. This morning it's calmed down quite a bit, still a steady stream of folks. But last night we had video of the action. It got kind of heated as 10,000 people we're told by Macy's, that made the trip out here at midnight when things opened up. Quite a scene as they rushed in to get discounts on, well, fragrance was a big one. When you buy $65 worth of any fragrance here at Macy's, you get a digital video camera.

Of course, that Justin Bieber cologne called "Someday" is a big hit, too, and coming with of all things his holiday CD.

So shoppers quite eager to get a head start last night. We talked to some of them, shoppers from around the world coming to Macy's to see what kind of deals they could get. Here's a listen.


KNOWLES: Three musketeers, where you from? Good deals out there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. A lot of good deals on black Friday.

KNOWLES: How early were you out today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since 11:00 -- yesterday morning.

KNOWLES: Anymore shopping or is this it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on our way to Best Buy now to see what they have left. Hopeful hi some TVs left. We don't really know.

KNOWLES: Good luck, guys.


KNOWLES: And, you know, the shoppers are very happy with the early deals, but some employees were not. An employee at Target gathering signatures this Thanksgiving trying to get out of work on Thanksgiving saying he had to spend more time with his family. Certainly a big hit with shoppers every year they expect. Some 150 million shoppers. Last year estimates were way off, though. They expected 138 million shoppers on black Friday and ended up with more than 200 million. Back to you.

COSTELLO: That's just amazing. I think it's not that people have no money to spend this Christmas holiday season, I should say. They just want to find the best bargains with the little money they do have. Is that what you're hearing from people?

KNOWLES: Oh, absolutely. All the polling numbers show that, you know, one poll, 85 percent of Americans said the economy is in rough shape. But here it's also about the sport, too. Don't forget that. There's a little bit of a rush coming out there to line up with all of those people to get that holiday shopping done early.

COSTELLO: Sadly, I think you're right. Have you gotten my Justin Bieber perfume yet, because I can't wait to smell it?

KNOWLES: I got both of you a gallon-sized jug of this stuff. It's called "Someday." It will take you back to your teen years. No one knows what teens smell like better than Justin Bieber.

COSTELLO: You're right about that. Supposedly, it has a fruity, citrusy smell.

KNOWLES: That sounds perfect. What better way to go out on the set, in the studio smelling like fruit.


COSTELLO: Thanks so much. I'm enjoying these live hits from Macy's. I am.

CHO: Chris Knowles, thank you very much. Get that perfume for us. Check back with you later.

Meanwhile we want to head now to George Howell. He's live at a Best Buy in Atlanta this morning. So George, they opened at midnight in Macy's. What time did that Best Buy open?

HOWELL: Again, it opened at midnight. Sad to say no fruit- smelling perfumes here.

CHO: That's OK. That's all right.

HOWELL: Definitely a lot of people here. The parking lot was packed, as you can imagine, and when it opened at midnight pop everyone rushed to the electronics area, everybody looking for the cheap television or camera, looking for the door-busters as they're called. We found two shopper, Katie and Pam who apparently found a good deal. Here it is. Take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a laptop. I needed one for my personal use and use it for a little work, but this was just a really deal. It was worth coming early for.

HOWELL: How much did you save coming in early? How much did you save?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anywhere from $100 to $120 depending where you buy it.

HOWELL: The two of you have been doing this how long?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About 12 years. We do it pretty much every year.

HOWELL: So tradition. You wake up early and get out here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whether we need anything or not.


HOWELL: One thing we've been looking into, the National Retail Federation said that people just don't have a lot of money to spend. So when you see the stores open early you go out and buy the item. Do you agree?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it depends. For me it's going to have to be something that's a good buy and something that I either really need or it's very high on the wants list.

HOWELL: And you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. People are intrigued by a great deal, and there are so many good options out there. So I mean getting three hours sleep, I think it's worth it.

HOWELL: You're going across the street to the mall? It continues?


HOWELL: Thanks for taking a minute with me.

Obviously people getting to Best Buy this morning, but also a lot of customers thanking the employees who are coming in to work. Many of these employees started at 10:00 p.m. and will be working until 10:00 a.m., 12-hour shifts. So you can imagine perhaps a bit tired, but definitely a lot of excitement as this rush continues. CHO: Sounds like the news business, George Howell. Thank you so much live at a Best Buy in Atlanta. George, thanks.

COSTELLO: Let's get serious and head to the situation in Egypt where the country's ruling military council picked a new prime minister and plans to go ahead and parliamentary elections as scheduled that will begin next week. This is the face of more protests demanding the immediate handover of power to a civilian government.

Anti-military demonstrators seemed to have the White House's support. CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Cairo for us this morning. Good morning, Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. That's right, we're in Tahrir Square. It's become a protest camp where people have been maintaining a vigil for days and nights, basically since Saturday. Fortunately I can report that the fighting has died down since yesterday. We're not seeing the ambulances and the kids coming out from clashes with riot police with pellets in their heads and overwhelmed by tear gas.

This is peaceful. They had Friday prayers here, and showing defiance against the ruling military council, which many associate with the former government of Hosni Mubarak that was brought down nine, 10 months ago by similar protests in this same square.

Instead we're seeing a battle of people power, Carol, where rival protests are out in other parts of Cairo today. There is a pro- military protest taking place in another neighborhood of Cairo. And a very powerful political group here, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is not participating in this demonstration, is going to hold its own rally in another part of Cairo. Three different groups all trying to show their strength just three days before the country is expected to go to the polls in the first phase of parliamentary elections. Carol?

COSTELLO: Ivan Watson reporting live from Cairo, Egypt this morning. Thank you.

And still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, the tradition that may be bigger than the turkey. Could that be possible? Black Friday sales -- will it be a boom for retailers? We'll ask the president and CEO of Macy's Terry Lundgren, next.

CHO: And his helicopter crash, walked away from the wreckage. Now we're learning exactly what saved him. We'll talk to the pilot.

COSTELLO: And things get ugly in a beauty salon and the drama is caught on tape. We'll tell you how this mess started straight ahead.

CHO: You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 10 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: It's 13 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

The helicopter pilot who survived a stunning crash is now talking. He's talking about how he managed to walk away from the wreckage with just a few scratches. He was installing lights on a waterfront Christmas display in Auckland, New Zealand when things went horrible wrong. The chopper blades clip ad cable. You can see the chopper broke apart. The pilot says he was saved by his seatbelt.


GREG GRIBBLE, HELICOPTER PILOT: Because it happened so quickly, it was like a dream really. I was just like bang and next thing I was unbuckling my belt. I don't know if that was my head that actually hit that, a little graze here. My left leg has a bit of those.

That's the belt attached to the floor of the aircraft, OK? And that basically there all just -- I must have slit around it. It dragged me back in. If it wasn't for that it would have been all over.


COSTELLO: Despite the trauma of that crash, Greg Gribble, the pilot, says he is eager to get back in the pilot's seat.

CHO: New this morning, Syria must sign a deal today that would allow Arab League monitors to watch the government's response to the uprising there. If Syria refuses it could face sanctions that would halt flights deals with the central bank. The Arab League already revoked the country's membership after it ignored demands to stop the crackdown on civil protests.

COSTELLO: Over in India, a man slapped the federal agriculture minister in the face, shouting "You're all thieves!" Security guards quickly surrounded him, but it doesn't end there. He pulled out a knife and threatened to slit his wrists. The man reportedly angry over high costs and political corruption.

"Harry Potter" creator and author J.K. Rowling says Britain's aggressive tabloid media hunted her down constantly after the births of her second and third children, that she stayed home and felt like a hostage in her own house.

In the ongoing inquiry into press standards, Rowling also testified that the paparazzi made her feel paranoid and even slipped a note into her young daughter's school bag.


JK ROWLING, AUTHOR: -- this doesn't apply to the whole of the press, but the attitude seems to be utterly cavalier. Indifference. What does it matter? You're famous. You're asking for it.


CHO: Rowling called for a government body that could impose sanctions on media in the U.K.

COSTELLO: And spending time this Thanksgiving with the troops. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords served meals to Tucson-based military families. It was her first official event since the January mass shooting that left her critically injured. Giffords recently said she'll have to get better before deciding whether to return to Congress.

CHO: But that's a great, big first step. Good for her.

The Republicans vying for the presidential nomination debate performance meant everything in the polls. Just ask Newt Gingrich. And with Iowa around the corner, time is apparently running out for the candidates to set themselves apart.

Here's CNN's Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser.


You know, many Americans have holiday shopping on their minds today. For some of us it's all about the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

With Thanksgiving over, the GOP candidates are heading back on the campaign trail with just five-and-a-half weeks to go until the first votes in the nomination ballot.


MITT ROMNEY (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And Iowa has the first and in some respects one of the most powerful voices as to who our nominee will be.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm always reminded when I show up in Iowa, you know, the pundits always think they're ones that pick the presidents. No. It's the people of Iowa who pick the presidents.


STEINHAUSER: And expect to see most of the major candidates spend lots of time in Iowa from now until the January 3rd caucuses which kick the off the primary and caucus calendar.

A new poll that people likely to take part in the Republican contest there indicates that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is on top of the field with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney second and Congressman Ron Paul third and everyone else in single digits.

The survey was conducted almost entirely before our debate Tuesday night right here in Washington. Now, coming up in just over two weeks, the next two debates in Iowa, of course -- Carol, Alina.

COSTELLO: Of course. Thank you, Paul.

Let's head to the Extreme Weather Center in Atlanta. Reynolds Wolf is in. Good morning, Reynolds.


We're taking a look at some of the weather around the nation. And for the Eastern Seaboard, things will be just picture perfect. They get really mild conditions today in parts of the southeast, all the way up through parts of the Great Lakes. High pressure is going to be your dominating feature.

But just the opposite when you head out to the west. There is a (ph) fairly potent winter storm that's going to last to about midday bringing some snow to about 2,500 feet or so off into the -- into parts of the Cascades. They could see about a foot of snow in some places. Winds possibly approaching 20 to 30 miles per hour.

Breezy for parts in the Northern Plains and into the Central and Northern Rockies, but beautiful for the Great Basin. And Southern California, West Texas maybe seeing some rain before the day is out.

High temperatures mainly 40s in Seattle and Portland; 63 in San Francisco; 63 in Kansas City; from Boston to New York to Washington mainly 50s and 60s; 66 Atlanta; 78 Miami and Tampa.

Your delays if you're traveling today, here's what you can kind of anticipate, delay just under an hour for Chicago and St. Louis. In Minneapolis and Detroit, low clouds and some wind may keep you grounded for a bit. Dallas, same deal, where you could have some morning fog and some showers in the afternoon. Memphis, the fog is going to be an issue. And Tampa, Orlando, Miami, wind is going to be the problem.

That is the latest on your forecast. Hey. Let's send it back to you in New York. Your turn again.

CHO: All right, Reynolds. Thank you very much.

WOLF: You bet.

COSTELLO: Still to come this morning, Black Friday sales. Will the sales be a boom for retailers? We're going to ask the President and CEO of Macy's, Terry Lundgren. He'll join us next.


CHO: Welcome back. Twenty-two minutes after the hour.

Macy's opened its doors for the masses at midnight. But does more time to shop give retailers a leg up in Black Friday sales? We want to ask President and CEO of Macy's Terry Lundgren. He joins us live.

Hey, Terry, good morning. First of all, congratulations on a beautiful Thanksgiving Day parade. It was extraordinary. Glad you're with us.

TERRY LUNDGREN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MACY'S: Thanks, Alina. I'm glad to be here, believe me.

CHO: We want to talk about how you decided to open at midnight. You know, 4:00 or 5:00 A.M. just wasn't enough. Why did you decide to do that?

LUNDGREN: You know, I tell my employees this all the time because I made a commitment that I've never miss the Black Friday opening. And so I think they're kind of calling my bluff when we all decided we're going to open at midnight this year as opposed to 4:00 A.M. last year, in fact that was plenty early (ph).

But we tested 12 stores at the request of those stores last year and it was a big success right from the gun at midnight. So it was clearly a big success here at Harold Square with over 10,000 people standing outside waiting to get in. So it's clearly the biggest crowd visibly that I've ever seen and it's very impressive. Very impressive.

CHO: Well, obviously, the strategy worked. You know, I was talking to a retail analyst, Marshal Cohen, yesterday. He said this year was going to be really about traditional gifts like sweaters and fragrances. I heard that you have a deal that if you spent $65 on a fragrance you get a free digital camera? Is that your best deal today?

LUNDGREN: Well, there's many of them. That's a good one. We've got a -- we've got a woman's Rampage boot that normally sells for between $49 and $59 for $19.99. So I think I just the saw lines in our shoe department.

We have these Ralph Lauren pillows for those interested in home furnishings products at ($6.99). Those are going out in bags like four at a time.

But this little item is the Justin Bieber -- I mean, you've got to love the Bieber. Justin Bieber fragrance at $65, but you get his holiday CD, his first holiday CD and actually yiu can tap into a download of an item, a song that's not available anywhere else when you buy here at Macy's. So that is a very, very big item for all the teenage girls in town.

CHO: I can't believe you brought it out with you. Terry, good for you. I mean, you talk about a fragrance launch and pairing with celebrities. I mean, this was the biggest in history when you launched the fragrance back in June, so congratulations for that.

And, you know, I want to ask you. Given the economic climate, give us a sense of the bottom line here. How much does today and this weekend mean to you in terms of your -- your economic outlook?

LUNDGREN: Well, first of all, I think you know this, Alina, but we're having the best year we've had in a decade. Macy's Inc. is up 5.3 percent on same-store sales. We have record earnings in the third quarter for us. And so things are going very, very well and we just see that momentum continuing on in through the fourth quarter. So we -- we feel absolutely great about, you know, what is going on with us, and it's really all about the combination of great brands, brands that the customers know and trust and, of course, great value. Some of the things that I've already mentioned.

CHO: Well -- and you have been lauded in the press for that. I mean, if you -- if you had to point to strategic reasons as to why this is happening, would you point to some of the celebrity match-ups that you've come up with in recent months and years?

LUNDGREN: That's part of it. In our case, the biggest -- the biggest change and the biggest impact that has had the biggest, most positive effect has been the change in our organization's structure where we actually relocated executives to 69 cities around the country, where they can actually monitor the customers in those marketplaces and help us, you know, drive the business to a very local level, because we're a very large company, but I think becoming more and more locally relevant is what it's all about.

And as we call it My Macy's, we believe as customers go into the stores in Chicago or go into stores in Miami that it has to feel like it's their Macy's because we know them. I think that's what's driving the business to the highest level.

CHO: One quick final question, are you getting any early indications as to what's selling really, really well today?

LUNDGREN: So far it's been -- the women's shoe department is unbelievable. I don't think those are going out as gifts, by the way, Alina. I think that's customer -- you know, here you get gifts, but, by the way, I'm going to get myself a pair of shoes. That's been the hottest place -- the hottest part of the store and then the whole cosmetics and fragrances have been great. Handbags are great. So a lot of the accessory places.

CHO: Well, a lot of women -- I mean, everybody's shopping today, but a lot of women are shopping. And you know my philosophy, Terry? One for you, one for me. One for you, two for me. So, there you go.

LUNDGREN: There you go.

CHO: All right. Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy's. Thank you for joining us this morning.

Your stop stories are next. We're back after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you need to shop, shop with a conscience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need stuff for our families and I work everyday. And I think this is the best deal I'm going to get Lina (ph) write my check. And Lina (ph) save me some money. So I'm here. CHO (voice-over): The Occupy Wall Street movement attempting to occupy Black Friday, but shoppers say it wouldn't stop them from snagging those bargain priced flat screens on this "AMERICAN MORNING."

COSTELLO: And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Top stories for you now.

Demonstrators out in force again today in Egypt, calling for an immediate end to military rule. The White House says the transfer of power to a civilian government in Egypt must be just and inclusive and happen as soon as possible.

For its part, the ruling military council has appointed a new prime minister and plans to proceed with Parliamentary elections next week as scheduled.

CHO: An emotional roller coaster for family and friends of three American college students arrested during a Tahrir Square protest in Egypt. A court their ordered them to go free, but it appears they still have not been released from police custody.

COSTELLO: And while reporting on the Tahrir Square protests, Egyptian-American journalist, Mona Eltahawy, says she was arrested and abused by police.

Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, I talked with her about her nightmare ordeal.


MONA ELTAHAWY, JOURNALIST: I was cornered by four or five riot police and they beat me with their sticks. That's how I got the break on my left arm and on my right hand and then they dragged me behind what was basically the front line into a no-man's-land all the way to the Interior Ministry, which was close by.

As they were taking me there, I experienced a terrible sexual assault, basically hands everywhere, groping my breasts, hands between my legs.

I lost count of the number of hands that tried to get into my trousers and I was trying to push off. They were calling me all kinds of terrible name. I fell to the ground at one point. They were dragging me by my hair.


COSTELLO: Mona still Egypt though reporting. She was also blindfolded and held for 12 hours and says she was talking about the experience because thousands of Egyptians suffer the same kind of abuse, but they have no voice.

CHO: Things got really ugly at a beauty salon in Georgia. Look at that, a knock down drag-out fight at a Wal-Mart nail salon. As you can see it was brutal. A teenager bystander was hit in the mouth with a porcelain bowl shattering her teeth. The brawl broke out when a woman burst into the salon screaming over prices. Her kids started fighting with other children and that's when things turned ugly.

COSTELLO: Her kids were there, too? It's just crazy.

New report that lawyers for locked out NBA players is set to resume settlement talks today in the hopes of starting the season on Christmas day.

ESPN reports the league will pressed on several issues including the salary cap system, the split of basketball-related income and concessions on luxury tax teams.

This is the second time a major halt in the NBA has ended in cancellation of regular season games.

CHO: Just as Black Friday shoppers hit the mall in Fayetteville, North Carolina, we're getting word now that gunfire erupted overnight. Shots were fired around 2:00 in the morning Eastern Time near a food court entrance.

Police say several more shots were fired after one of the suspects ran inside the mall. They are now looking for two suspects. We don't know if this is in any way connected to Black Friday shopping.

COSTELLO: Things got a little out of hand last night at a Los Angeles Wal-Mart when the doors finally opened, at least 10 people suffered minor injuries in the rush to get into the store.

Police are now looking for a female customer who they say used a can of pepper spray to get ahead of the line and then had some kind of altercation with the other customers.

CHO: The "Occupy Wall Street" movement has a new target on this Black Friday, Target and dozens of other stores. They're hoping to hit the big corporations where it hurts, their wallet, the bottom line.

But as reporter, Ken Pritchard tells us, customers may not feel like cooperating.


KEN PRITCHARD, KTVU (voice-over): "Occupy Oakland" volunteers served up turkey and sides at a plaza. But instead of planning traditional after-Thanksgiving shopping trips, protesters here are planning boycotts. They want people to skip the sales at major retailers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you need to shop, shop with a conscience.

PRITCHARD: As part of what's being called "Occupy Black Friday." Radas Alterman says we could see protesters picketing big chain stores or even occupying them.

RADAS ALTERMAN, OCCUPY OAKLAND: "Occupy Oakland" encourages diversity of tactics and sort of feels that people have -- should be empowered to do autonomous options.

PRITCHARD: The National Occupy Black Friday Movement set its sights on the top 100 publicly traded retail stores and they want shoppers to think about who they're giving their money to.

MIKE RUFO, OCCUPY OAKLAND: Until people change their behavior and send a different message to the system about what their values are, then the system will start to respond.

PRITCHARD: But a Black Friday boycott isn't getting a whole lot of support from these shoppers.


PRITCHARD: Camping out at the Emeryville Best Buy waiting to pick up a cheap flat screen.

DAVID GOMES, BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPER: A tell tale sign that there's not going to be much of an Occupy Black Friday.

KAWNDA SMITH, BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPER: We need stuff to our families. I work every day and think this is the best deal I'm going to get. They're not writing me my checks or saving me the money, so I'm here.


CHO: That was Ken Pritchard reporting from affiliate KTVU.

You know, we want to hear from you this morning. If you're one of the 152 million Americans out there shopping this Black Friday weekend. Send us an I-Report.

If it's big crowds or Occupy Black Friday protests, it doesn't matter. CNN wants to share your video with America. Check it out at

COSTELLO: Moving the Black Friday frenzy to Thursday. Toys "R" Us barely waited for you put the fork down before opening its stores to holiday shoppers.

We'll talk to the CEO about that and, of course, the hottest toys of the year.

CHO: And something Detroit Lions' fans were not thankful for. Having the rock band, Nickelback, performed at half time of their Thanksgiving game against the Packers. We'll tell you why and why so many boos. It's 35 minutes after the hour.


COSTELLO: It's going to be a beautiful day in New York City, sunny right now and 46 degrees, but later, 60 degrees for a high. Can you believe it, Mid-November?

Can you believe this, too? Even with a small backlash against extended Black Friday hours, big retailers are hoping for a banner year. One of those offering huge bargains, Toys "R" Us, which actually opened at 9:00 p.m. last night on Thanksgiving night.

This morning, we're joined by the head of the company, Gerry Storch in his element at the flagship store in Times Square. Good morning.


COSTELLO: OK, so I'm excited to hear this from you, you opened at 9:00 p.m. Eastern last night. Were there people there?

STORCH: There were long lines that started out the door. It went down the street and down the block. It was a real celebratory atmosphere. You know, we're a family store and people had a lot of fun.

COSTELLO: It's just unbelievable to me. Were there people shopping at 3:00 in the morning?

STORCH: Absolutely, all night long. You know, our door busters go all day today and so people are still coming in. You can still get the same values and same deals. You know, if you didn't want to come out last night then come on this morning or this afternoon.

COSTELLO: There's been a lot of criticism on the extended hours this year. Why do you feel that you have to open up on Thanksgiving night of all nights?

STORCH: Well, it's all about consumer choice. Last year, we opened at 10:00 p.m., and it was received rave reviews from customers. They loved it.

Think of people who after work on Friday, et cetera, that gave them a chance to shop and take part in Black Friday. Other people like to go to bed at night so give them a chance to shop and then go home and go to sleep.

But for those who -- those who prefer, we had a whole same additional door busters starting at 5:00 a.m. this morning for those who wanted to come then. Meanwhile, you could shop us online at any time. So it's up to the customer.

COSTELLO: I think these online petitions and there's not one against Toys "R" Us, but for Best Buy and for Target, it's the employees who are complaining about this because they have to work long hours on the holidays and they don't get much in return in terms of pay. So how do you make your employees happy?

STORCH: Our employees love Black Friday. I love Black Friday. I was here every executive in the company was working the same hours and we love Black Friday. We talk about Black Friday all year long. All of other employees know we have a great mission to provide toys for the children of America for Christmas. What could be more fun?

We get jazzed by it. Our web site counts down the days until Black Friday, as soon as Christmas is over each year. So Black Friday is our time of year.

COSTELLO: You make it sound like so much fun. So let's talk about more fun things, shall we? You brought the hottest toys this Christmas season and we want to see what they are. So go for it.

STORCH: All right, we always have the hottest toys here. Now, this Lalaloopsy doll was popular last year. This year, they came out with one with this silly hair. It's really cool, and just this week, we started carrying the Lalaloopsy Littles, which are junior version of the Lalaloopsy doll and they are just flying off the shelves.

Also for a little girl, there are Xia, Xia girls. They're little Hermit crabs. Girls love Hermit crabs. The shells come off. They're collectible. They have little surprises inside. It's a really fun toy and it's motorized. It will drive all around. It won't do it right now, because they're drive off the table.

Now for boys, we have the "Trash Pack." The "Trash Pack" are little creatures that live in a garbage can. Boys like anything gross. These aren't really gross, but they sort of seem like they might be because they're in a trash can. Boys love these. You can collect them all.

You can get a few or you can get a lot based on what your budget is. And then finally here, I have "Skylander." "Skylander" is the hottest video game of the year. These action figures are fantastic.

But what's really cool is you put them on this portal and they'll magically pop into the video game. You can play with that character on the video game and store all your levels and information on it, and then take it right off the portal and go to your friend's house and keep playing. So that is the hottest video game of the year.

COSTELLO: That is really cool. So is it a surprise to you every year, which toys are hot?

STORCH: Well, we spend an entire year getting ready for Black Friday and the next Christmas. So we visit toy fairs all over the world. We talk to manufacturers.

So generally, we get it right and at Toys "R" Us, we have the hottest city toys in stock all the way to Christmas. We have many toys. You will not be able to get anywhere. That's what we pride ourselves on and that's what we stand for.

COSTELLO: And just a final question about the way people are shopping for toys this holiday season, are they buying smaller ticket items or are the big ticket items going as well?

STORCH: Well, they're buying everything, and you know, what's most important with toys, you're getting the right toy for the right child. If you get a barge on something that's not the right toy, then it's really wasted money.

That's why we spend so much time focusing on what the right toys are and with people in our stores who can provide that service and can help you pick the right toy for your child.

So you know, toys by their nature are not that expensive. Toys often used as a metaphor for something not that expensive. So we don't sell real cars, we sell toy cars. Whatever your budget, you can find what you want at Toys "R" us.

COSTELLO: Gerry Storch, you're always a lot of fun. Thanks you so much for joining us this morning.

STORCH: My pleasure.

COSTELLO: Now I know he's going to get back to work.

CHO: Amazing, these CEOs, they actually show up for Black Friday. You know, anyway, it's a big business day. Your morning headlines are next.

Plus, no one has seen it yet, but the girl with the dragon tattoo is certainly getting plenty of ink and Oscar buzz, too. We'll take a closer look at one of the most anticipated movies this holiday season. It's 44 minutes after the hour.


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: 45 minutes after the hour. Here are your morning headlines.

Former first lady of Chicago, Maggie Daley, died last night after battling breast cancer. She was 68 years old. Daley is the wife of former Mayor Richard Daley. She died at home surrounded by family.

An Egyptian court ordered their release but three American college students that are still in custody in Cairo and could be there until Sunday. The students, who attended the American University in Cairo, were arrested during a Tahrir Square protest on Monday.

A Black Friday frenzy is underway. Many retailers opening at midnight or earlier to get a jump on sales. 10 people hurt outside a Los Angeles area Wal-Mart last night when a woman fired off pepper spray. All of the injuries were said to be minor.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has a new target -- holiday shopping. Protesters are planning to picket dozens of stores today. They say they want to hit corporate America where it hurts -- in their wallet for the corruption of Washington.

Starting today, two major U.S. malls will track every step shoppers take by monitoring their cell phone signals. Officials at the malls in southern California and Richmond, Virginia, say no personal data will be collected, insisting they're simply trying to identify shopping patterns.

The markets open in less than two hours. Right now futures for the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 all lower. Its' a shortened session today. Markets will close at 1:00 p.m. eastern.

No Black Friday door-busting days for the president. He's at the White House, waiting on his Christmas tree. First Lady Michelle Obama will receive the 19-foot tall balsam fir this morning. It'll be displayed in the Blue Room. That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back after this.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Detroit. Sunny and 41 degrees. Going to be a nice day in Detroit. Later today, partly cloudy, a high of 57.

But I don't know. The talk will be all about -- what, Nickelback? The Lions? You name it. The Motor City the seat of a Thanksgiving Day tradition in the NFL. But the Lions, they just couldn't put the brakes on the Packers' perfect season. Green Bay defeated Detroit 27-15 to move to 11-0 on the season.

Of course, I don't know, as a Lions fan, it hurt more the way they lost than them actually losing. But we'll talk about that later.

CHO: What was it, 27-15?

COSTELLO: Yes. But I didn't mind that they lost because Green Bay is an awesome team, I don't know, I guess we'll talk about it later.


You know what I'm talking about. Quit rubbing it in, Alina.

CHO: I'm sorry. She's upset this morning.

A few musical missteps. First the "National Anthem" malfunction. 17-year-old Lauren Alaina, "American Idol" season-10 runner-up, hit the pause button mid-way through. Take a look.






CHO: I bet that felt like two hours.


She is only 17 though.

COSTELLO: She said "through" instead of "at" and that threw her.

CHO: She recovered beautifully, though, as you can see, and made it safely to the home of the brave.

COSTELLO: It was a tough crowd in Detroit because -- they've also booked a half-time show. And Detroit fans weren't very happy about it from the get go. Listen to how Nickelback was welcomed.





COSTELLO: But the Canadian band, Nickelback, must have known it was coming. Earlier this month, a Michigan student launched an online petition, asking the group not to play on Thanksgiving Day. Close to 56,000 people signed on at Many people were upset because they felt the band did not represent Detroit's musical history. The band, as I just said, they're from Canada.

CHO: OK. I get it now, sort of.


Thanksgiving weekend signals the start of the holiday movie season. One of the most anticipated films is the American version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." The Swedish --


CHO: The Swedish original was adapted from the wildly popular and very dark book trilogy.

COSTELLO: Yes. It's generating Oscar buzz already. I sat down with's deputy editor, Dodi Stewart, to talk all about it.


DODI STEWART, DEPUTY EDITOR, JEZEBEL.COM: They're calling it the feel-bad movie of the summer -- of the Christmas season, which I think is amazing. It's going to be action packed, a mystery, dark, the whole nine.

COSTELLO: What a weird movie to put out at Christmastime.

STEWART: I know. But people love the book. The Swedish movie did well in Europe. And I think people just want to see what's happening. It's got the blonde bond. Who's irresistible, right?

COSTELLO: Right, Daniel Craig (ph). He's got that.


He is the perfect actor, I think, to play this character, Mr. Blongfist (ph), if that's how you pronounce his name?


When you read the book, you don't know how to pronounce any names in it.

STEWART: Yes, it's Swedish. We don't know what it is. Yes, he has the intensity for this guy who is, you know, trying to unravel this mystery. So so, I think he's going to be superb.

COSTELLO: For the heroin in the book, which everybody seems to identify with -- which I find intriguing. I talked to women of all different ages and religions and all different colors, they all love this female character.


COSTELLO: What is it about her?

STEWART: I think because she's kind of the alternative. She's not this pin-up girl. She's got piercings. She's dark. She's tattooed. She rides a motorcycle. But I think women love a kick-ass woman and she doesn't take any, you know, guff from anybody. And I think that is really refreshing in this time of sort of where the woman has the gun, but she also has her cleavage hanging out and stuff like that, so.

COSTELLO: I always, like, compare her to Lara Croft (ph). Right. So, you compare Liz Desalender (ph), and I'm like, she could kick Lara Croft (ph)'s ass.

STEWART: Definitely. Without a doubt, she is mean and taking no prisoners.

COSTELLO: The other thing I really like about this character, she's small in stature, but you still get the feeling she can be tough and you would be afraid to mess with her.

STEWART: Definitely. And she's brilliant. That's one of the best parts. You know, it's partially her physically strength and partially her mental acuity. She's just a genius. It's amazing. COSTELLO: I saw the European movie and I liked the first one, but then I had no desire to see the second one. I'm wondering if it will turn out that way for me, again, with the American made films.

STEWART: I think it's in the hand of David Fincher (ph). He's an amazing director. And I think it's going to be a blockbuster, I really do.

COSTELLO: But they have this actress that not many people know playing the lead role. There's a lot of pressure on her.

STEWART: Definitely. But I think Rooney Mara is a great choice. And I think that the whole, everything put together with Daniel Craig, with Rooney Mara, with the director, with the music -- it's got this dark Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reser (ph) sound track. I think everything is going to be this perfect storm of nasty, exciting, blockbuster.

COSTELLO: OK, so, I mean, no movie, no movie's audience could equal the book's readership because --


-- I think that's continuing to grow and it's just so off the charts. I don't even know how many people have read that book.

STEWART: It's like a global best seller. But I do think that people who read the book will want to read it, and people who just heard about the book and are like, what, I heard about this thing and what is it all about, they'll be attracted to the movie.

COSTELLO: I can't wait.

Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

STEWART: Thank you. Thanks.


CHO: You're a fan. You have read all the books.

COSTELLO: I have. Riveted to the books.

CHO: I have not been.

COSTELLO: I'm really nervous about the movie because I want the movie, the American made version of the film, to be good and not disappoint me.

CHO: It is getting good early buzz. I will go with you to see it.


COSTELLO: All right, Carol. You should read the book though first. CHO: I'm going to read the book first. I'll read the book first.

I want to talk about another big movie. "Breaking Dawn" could break the bank yet again this weekend. "Twilight" fans are known to have strong reactions to the films. But there's a report of a man in Florida actually having a seizure, which was apparently was triggered by a particularly intense scene in "Breaking Dawn Part 1." Internet movie sites report that other people suffering similar symptoms during the same scene, which are flashes of red, black and white.

COSTELLO: You're kidding.

CHO: It's tough.


Top stories coming your way next, including crowds surging right now in Cairo's Tahrir Square as the standoff between police, the army and protesters face a big test. We'll take you there live.

It's four minutes until the top of the hour.