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American Morning

Syracuse Child Sex Scandal; Election Day in Egypt; Summit To Tackle Europe's Debt Crisis; Bloomberg: Banks Earned $13 Billion From Secret Loans; Third Accuser Comes Forth in Syracuse Child Sex Abuse Scandal; Interview with Kal Penn; How the Angels Get Their Wings

Aired November 28, 2011 - 08:00   ET



ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: His wife knew everything.

I'm Alina Cho.

Syracuse firing coach Bernie Fine after a new explosive tape surfaces. And now, a third accuser is saying Fine molested him when he was a boy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It's election day in Egypt.

I'm Christine Romans.

With fresh blood in the streets of Tahrir Square, Egyptians are heading to the polls. Many of them are voting for the first time in their lives -- on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHO: Good morning, everybody. It's Monday, November 28. Carol and Ali are of today. I'm Alina Cho, along with Christine Romans -- just back from vacation.


CHO: Welcome back.

ROMANS: Good morning.

CHO: Nice to see you.

But, first, time is running out for more Wall Street protesters. You're looking live now at the scene in Los Angeles there. Occupy protesters were warned they would be arrested if they were still on the streets after 4:30 a.m. West Coast time about half an hour ago.

So far, it's been mostly a peaceful standoff with police. You can see one of the affiliate reporters there in front of the camera, certainly a top story out there. But earlier, we had been reporting that police were trying to get those protesters to fold up their tents and move out. What happened instead was that more protesters moved in.

So, we are watching this story very, very closely throughout the morning.

ROMANS: All right. Also developing this morning, Syracuse University associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine has been fired -- this after explosive allegations of sexually abusing two former ball boys.

After the firing, the head coach there, who had earlier defended Fine, he issued this statement. He said, "The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated, and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found."

And he went on to say, "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from happening or been insensitive to victims of abuse."

He had been very vocally in support of this assistant coach.

CHO: He had. And now, there's a bit of an about-face.

ESPN meanwhile has released that secretly recorded conversation in 2002 between Fine's wife, Laurie Fine, and one of the coach's accusers, Bobby Davis. On it, potentially damning evidence that suggests that Laurie Fine not only knew about the abuse but allowed it to go on.

We want to play some of that for you right now.


LAURIE FINE, BERNIE FINE'S WIFE: I know everything that went on, you know, I know everything that went on with him. Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues. And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted.


FINE: Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he's somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them out of his mind.

You know what? Go to a place where there's gay boys, find yourself a gay boy. You know, get your rocks off, have it be over with.

DAVIS: Yes, but --

FINE: You know, he needs a, that male companionship that I can't give him, nor is he interested in me, and vice versa.

Because I care about you, and I don't want to see you being treated that way --


FINE: -- and, it's hard for, if it was another girl like I told you, it would be easy for me to step in because you know what you're up against, you're -- you're when it's someone, it's another guy, you can't compete with that.


CHO: Well, it's tough to hear. Laurie Fine told this local newspaper which declined to report the story at the time that Davis had recorded multiple conversations with her and may have edited them to appear more inflammatory.

Bobby Davis and his stepbrother, Mike Lang, say Fine molested them back when they were ball boys at Syracuse. Davis also claims that Laurie Fine had a sexual relationship with him when he was 18 years old.

ROMANS: Today, affiliate WCSH spoke to a third accuser who has come forward against fine. The 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli says that Fine molested him in a Pittsburgh hotel when he was 13. It's the night before a Syracuse game against Pitt.

Tomaselli -- he has his own troubles. He is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Maine in 2009 and 2010. Tomaselli's own father calls him a liar and denies him ever meeting Fine or letting his son take a trip with the coach.

CHO: And when asked for a statement, Bernie Fine's attorneys released this, quote, "Mr. Fine will not comment on newspaper stories beyond his initial statement. Any comment from him would only invite and perpetuate ancient and suspect claims. Mr. Fine remains hopeful of a credible and expeditious review of the relevant issues by law enforcement authorities."

ROMANS: All right. And on campus this morning, many students are still having trouble believing all of this is happening at their school.

CNN's Deb Feyerick is live in Syracuse with more.

And, Deb, I mean, you've called and I think it's the perfect phrase. You've called this tape the game changer. There was a lot of skepticism about these claims before, and now the tables have turned.


And, you know, a lot of people here at Syracuse University, they are trying to reconcile the sort of two sides of Bernie Fine. The man, the coach that they know as a respected part of the basketball program who helped recruit and develop many of the players here, and now, these new allegations, really by his wife, who describes him as having a problem. And they're really trying to come to terms with who is the real Bernie Fine: the man they have known for so many years, or the man they are now just getting a glimpse of.

And we spoke to the sports editor of the school paper here. And here's what he said.


MICHAEL COHEN, SPORTS EDITOR OF "THE DAILY ORANGE": Every single person that we talk to, you know, multiple people in this house worked on the reporting, and every single one we talked to would defend coach Fine, and not a single one gave us even the slightest bit of an impression that these were true allegations. And now, this is coming from former players and coaches and people he worked so close with. So, it seemed at least like that the Syracuse basketball community was in defense of coach Fine.

And then in the community itself, the Syracuse community, there were people who thought it was ridiculous. There were people who thought, you know, it wasn't true as well. I think a lot of people fed of what Jim Boeheim said, which was that Bobby Davis and Mike Lang are just looking for money in the fallout of Penn State, in the wake of Penn state. So, there was that aspect as well.

But, you know, certainly I don't think anyone can say they suspected it from Bernie Fine, a guy who has been a dedicated member of the community and done so much for the basketball program. It was surprising if in fact it's true, which is still to be seen.


FEYERICK: And police have launched an extensive investigation. They did not investigate back in 2002 when the accuser made the initial claims. Part of it, the statute of limitations had run out. Also, they wanted the accuser to come in and speak with them face-to- face, because he really just placed a call from a university out in Utah.

But the accuser, Bobby Davis, alleges that the abuse went on for decades in the Fine home, where he lived part of the time.

And you think about this community, Christine. The homes of both the assistant coach and coach Jim Boeheim, they are across the street from one another. When we went to the home last night, there were a couple of lights that were on, but nobody answered our repeated knocks.

The chancellor in making her decision to fire the coach last evening said that there was little more she could do in face of the new allegations. She also says that they never had the tape back in 2005 when they investigated charges of abuse. And then simply found them not credible because there was nobody to corroborate the story at the time.

As I said, Syracuse police, they are investigating. Everyone is taking this very seriously now -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Deb Feyerick in Syracuse -- thanks, Deb.

CHO: Well, Egypt is at a crossroads this morning. It's election day there.

And with fresh blood being spilled in violent protests in Cairo, people are still heading to the polls. Many of them voting for the first time in their lives. Some 50 million people in Egypt are eligible.

Our Ivan Watson is live for us in Cairo.

And, Ivan, the polls have been open now for about seven hours. What does it look like there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The polls are still pretty crowded, Alina. Good morning to you.

This line goes back -- I mean, there are hundreds of people waiting, perhaps hours for their chance to cast their ballot. And you know what? Everybody I have talked to today has told me the same thing. This is the first time they have ever voted in an election.

Even though Egypt did have presidential and parliamentary elections under the former president, Hosni Mubarak -- pretty much everyone I talked to said the elections were rigged in favor of the president's ruling party. And now we feel like we have a choice. Some of these very people that are telling me this, but they are a little shy about speaking in front of the camera in English.

And certainly there is no shortage of choices here. The ballot has in some cases more than 100 candidates and political parties that they can choose from. The election season here is going to go on for months. This is for the lower house of parliament.

Voting today is going to go on for two days, Alina. But it's only 1/3 of the country. Next month, there's going to be another round of elections in another 1/3 of the country, and then the month after, another 1/3 of the country. And they won't actually get the results until January.

So people are going to get very used to elections in this country if all goes according to plan -- Alina.

CHO: Ivan, I'm curious whether the people have you spoken to feel as though the elections are going to make any difference.

WATSON: It's a good question. Take a listen to what one voter had to say to us right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will not change in one month or a year or in five years. It will take a long time to change from one system to the other. We have been going with this system for the past 30 years, and it's not like a button we push to change everything.

People's mentality has to change, everything. The more population, the way they think, the way education, everything. It's just the whole system that has to change.


WATSON: There you go, Alina. Now, if it's noisy here, it's because there's a campaign truck here blaring campaign slogans right outside the polling station. We have been informed by authorities that campaigning during the voting is illegal, but that doesn't seem to be stopping the political parties here.

Back to you.

CHO: All right. Ivan Watson live for us in Cairo, on a very important election day in Egypt. Ivan, thank you.

ROMANS: Meantime, three American college students are back home in the United States this morning, a few days after an Egyptian court ordered their release. They were accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during the uprising in Tahrir Square. Georgetown University student Derrik Sweeney denies they did anything wrong. He tells CNN Egyptian authorities fabricated the charges against them. Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, Sweeney said he was so terrified he fainted when he was realized he was being detained.


DERRIK SWEENEY, DETAINED IN EGYPT: There were about 20 -- 15 to 20 military or police, excuse me, I believe Egyptian policemen with guns standing in front of us, and they had just pulled out a bunch of gasoline and bottles and put them before us. And I was -- I thought that there was a good chance that they might try to execute us or kill us perhaps that night. And I did not know whether anyone else would ever know about that.


ROMANS: Wow. Sweeney says that Egyptian authorities beat him. They threatened to shoot him. He says, though, he'd consider returning to Egypt some day, just not any time soon.

CHO: Yes. He might stay home for the semester first.

Still ahead, she is a prominent Egyptian journalist based right here in New York City, and a good friend of our show. Mona Eltahawy is here name. She's here in our studios this morning, and she'll share a very personal story. Eltahawy says she was beaten, her bones broken, in both wrists, and sexual assaulted by policemen and thugs while covering the clashes in Tahrir Square. Her story is up next.

ROMANS: Also ahead, Occupy protesters in Los Angeles hold their ground overnight as police move in. These are live pictures right here. We've got all the new developments for you just ahead.

CHO: And a little later on in the show, actor Kal Penn will drop by our studios. He's of "Harold and Kumar" fame. He is once again focusing on his Hollywood career after a two-year stint as a staffer in the White House.

So, was the real West Wing like the show "West Wing"? That was that like for him? He'll talk about it.

It's 13 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Sixteen minutes after the hour. Election Day in Egypt comes after a week of deadly demonstrations. Egyptian-American journalist, Mona Eltahawy, lived through a violent run-in with police while covering the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square. She says she was arrested, sexually assaulted, and beaten. This morning, Mona is back in United States, and I am happy to say she's live here in our studios.

It is great to see you, with two casts, but nonetheless, great to see you. You know, we were talking in the break about this, and for all of those people out there who haven't heard what happened, tell us what happened, because this is something that you never think as a is going to happen to you.

MONA ELTAHAWY, AMERICAN-EGYPTIAN JOURNALIST: Exactly. You know, I arrived in Egypt -- I'm an Egyptian, and the revolution means a great deal to me. So, I arrived in Egypt on Tuesday night to be there to watch it as a journalist but also to take part as an Egyptian. And on Wednesday night, a day later, I went to Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which is the frontline basically between protesters and security forces.

Now that street has seen horrendous violence unleashed on protesters by the security forces. So many young men lost their eyes, people were killed, and lethal doses of tear gas were used. So, I wanted to go and see what it was like and just experience that street.

CHO: At what point did you realize you were in danger?

ELTAHAWY: Basically, when they started opening fire, because I was literally on the frontline, and we were ducking for cover. And the activists that I was with at the time, we both now realize we were entrapped, kind of by like double agents on our side, because they took us into what they said was a safe shelter, and they were basically holding us there until the riot police could come and get us.

CHO: And tell us what happened then.

ELTAHAWY: Well, then, unbeknownst to me, they arrested my friend, and he was brutally beaten as well. And then, they surrounded me -- four or five of them surrounded me and just unleashed these blows with their sticks which is how my arm got broken and my got broken, and then, they drug me into no man's land where it was just me and them and sexually assaulted me.

I had hands all over my body, on my breasts, in between my legs. All these hands trying to get into my trouser.

CHO: You were saying that said you were pulling hands out of your pants.

ELTAHAWY: Literally. Just all the time. And they pulled my -- on one point, I fell on the ground, and I thought if I don't get up now, I'm just going to die or they're going to rape me. It was just a nightmare, but I want to emphasize the reason that I'm here and the reason that I'm speaking out is because what happened to me is one tenth of what happened to so many Egyptians, and you know, nothing about their stories.

This kind of sexual violence has long been used by the Egyptian regime. It was used in 2005 against (INAUDIBLE). It was used by the army in March with the so-called virginity test which basically sexual assault, and here, it is happening to me again now. So, I want the world to know that the military rulers in Egypt right now are violent and brutal and do not belong in the leadership role that they have.

CHO: But you're not just telling your story and talking about this so that the world knows. You're actually planning legal action, as well. I mean, you've spoken to your attorneys. You're gathering documents. Who do you plan to go after?

ELTAHAWY: I just want to -- all of them, the ministry, the interior, the supreme council of the armed forces.

CHO: What do you hope to accomplish?

ELTAHAWY: I want to make a point that the reason that we started our revolution in Egypt on January 25th was to fight against this kind of brutality. January 26th (INAUDIBLE) in Egypt, and the revolution was directly confronting that brutality. So, I along with so many other Egyptians, we are fighting in whatever way we can. As a journalist, as a media person, I can use media and speak out.

But also, it's really important that there are human rights activists who courageously, and for years now, have been fighting this kind of brutality, and they're going to help me raise a case. There's a young woman who, on the 29th of this month, is raising a case against the military (ph) that runs Egypt for subjecting her to a virginity test.

I'm honoring that kind of courage. If this young woman in Egypt, Samir (Ibrahim (ph), can take a case against the military rulers of Egypt, the least I can do is raise a case against them and speak out.

CHO: It's Election Day in Egypt. That's obviously headline grabbing. Some 50 million people going to the polls. The polls have been open for seven hours now. How does it feel to be on the sidelines watching it from here?

ELTAHAWY: It's horrendous. I mean, I'm physically outside of Egypt, but emotionally, in my heart, I'm very much in Cairo. I was hoping that I could vote there. And you know, just join the thousands and thousands of people. This is our first post January 25th election. I have friends who are running for parliament, so it breaks my heart that I'm not be there. I was supposed to be there much longer, but I already have my ticket to go back. I'm going to be back there for the anniversary of January 25th.

CHO: But it takes six weeks to get the cast off, right?


CHO: What kind of therapy are you going through?

ELTAHAWY: I mean, right now, it's just the cast, because I'm supposed to keep my arm still, but you know, I'm tweeting all day, so I'm not really keeping my arms still.


CHO: Of course, you are. You're a journalist at heart. Mona Eltahawy, so great to see you. And you look fantastic, but for those big two casts on your arms, and we wish you well.

ELTAHAWY: I'm so happy to be here.

CHO: Happy Holidays.

ELTAHAWY: You as well.

CHO: Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Alina.

Check of the early morning markets next. They're up.

Plus, another Black Friday is in the books. So, how did holiday shoppers, how did the stores really make out? It's 21 minutes after the hour.


ROMANS: It's 24 minutes after the hour. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Europe's debt crisis top of the agenda at the White House. Today, President Obama meets with European leaders for an economic summit. The president is expected to press Europe again to resolve its debt crisis, which is now threatening the U.S. economic recovery, as well.

Growing optimism that maybe European leaders are going to be able to boost efforts to contain the debt crisis that's pushing world markets and the U.S. stock futures higher this morning.

Right now, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 futures are up by more than two percent. Isn't it interesting? Every little bit of progress in Europe means progress for stocks here. Every defeat means losses.

Also this morning, new insight into secret loans made during the height of the financial crisis. According to documents obtained by Bloomberg News to a freedom of information act request, JP Morgan, Bank of America, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs, they borrowed $460 billion from the fed. That's on top of the $160 billion they received as part of the other bailout. So, a lot of money being funneled to keep those banks going.

In Cyber Monday today, according to the National Retail Federation, 123 million bargain hunters are expected to log on looking for deals, and it's the one-day shopping event created by the industry, of course, that's projected to bring in a record $1.2 billion. Today's bargains would follow what the National Retail Federation is calling another record-breaking Black Friday and holiday weekend.

According to this trade group's own survey, shoppers spent $52.4 billion from Thursday through Sunday. Though, of course, there's lots of skepticism about whether sales were really that high. That's because the data is just not available yet, but we do know that shopper foot traffic was up a little bit compared with last year.

"Twilight" trumps the "Muppets." The "Twilight" saga "Breaking Dawn part 1" raked in $42 million over the weekend. Debuting at number two was Disney's family, "The Muppets," with sales of $29.5 million.

And from TV's "The Office" to your office, staples will reportedly begin selling a brand of paper by Dunder Mifflin. That's the paper company from the NBC sitcom. According to the "Wall Street Journal," the packs of paper come packaged with playful slogans like "get your skrant on." It's also expected to cost more than your average pack of copy paper as well. That's for the joke. You get to pay a little bit more, I guess.

Up next, teen star, Miley Cyrus, is staring down another scandal. She tells a crowd at her 19th birthday party that she's a stoner. She says it on tape. AMERICAN MORNING is back after the break.



ZACH TOMASELLI, ACCUSES FINE OF MOLESTING HIM: I was in the hotel room, and he would basically fondle me four to maybe five times.


CHO: A third man accusing former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine of abusing him when he was a ball boy. But his own father calls him a liar, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ROMANS: All right, welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Your top stories this morning. Police telling occupy L.A. protesters to clear out right now. We're going to show you some live pictures from Los Angeles. Protesters were warned they would be arrested if they were still on the streets after 4:30 a.m. west coast time. That was about an hour ago. That's after a midnight deadline to leave camp came and went. So far it's been a mostly peaceful standoff with police.

CHO: Egyptians are heading to the polls today, many of them for the first time. Some 50 million eligible as thousands of demonstrators continue their occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo. It's Election Day, and the process of electing parliament will last until March.

ROMANS: Syracuse University has fired Associate men's basketball coach Bernie Fine. He is accused of sexual abusing two former ball boys. ESPN aired a secretly recorded conversation between the coach's wife and his initial accuser. On it, potentially damning evidence suggesting she knew all about the alleged abuse.

Earlier we spoke to Jon Wertheim, a senior writer at "Sports Illustrated." He is watching both the Penn State and the Syracuse sex scandals and talked about what's different in each case.


JON WERTHEIM, SENIOR WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": On its face you have two longtime assistant coaches. They are married. They are roughly the same age. The two men accused were men and boys using sports as a lure. I mean, on the face there are a lot of eerie similarities.

But if you step back, big differences between the two -- a jury report and eight different delegations and 40 counts in the indictment versus these cases in Syracuse.

But, no, if one good thing comes from Penn State, as trite as it sounds, it's emboldening other people to come forward and we're taking these accusations more seriously, investigating more thoroughly.


ROMANS: After the firing, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, who earlier defended Fine, really defended him strongly, he said he deeply regrets the statements he made about the allegations.

CHO: And now a third accuser is coming out, claiming that Bernie Fine sexually abused him as a child. This allegedly took place back in 2002 when the accuser was just 13-years-old. Our Susan Candiotti has more on what he just told police.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christina and Alina, Zach Tomaselli is now 23-years-old. But when he was 13, he says Bernie Fine sexual assaulted him. Tomaselli says he told police all about it a few days ago. Tomaselli tells me after meeting Fine at an autograph signing in 2002 his dad told him he could go by himself to see a game in Pittsburgh. He says his dad put him on a bus with Syracuse fans and when he got to a hotel, Fine took him to his hotel room and molested him several times during the night.

This is what he told our affiliate WCSH. TOMASELLI: I was in the hotel room. And he was -- he would put his hand down by shorts whenever I was sitting there watching TV. And he would basically fondle me, four to maybe even five times. And it would go in spurts between 10 and 15 minutes, and it would stop for a couple of hours. And then he would start all over again.

CANDIOTTI: Tomaselli says almost a year later, in 2003, Fine invited him and his dad to a postgame party at Fine's house. His dad didn't go, but Tomaselli says his dad allowed him to stay overnight. He was not assaulted that time, he says.

Last Monday, Tomaselli called Syracuse police and met with detectives Wednesday. He says they grilled him for hours, and pressed him to describe the inside of Fine's home. A couple of days later, federal agents and Syracuse police searched Fine's home and trash and removed filing cabinets.

Tomaselli has his own troubles. He's currently accused of sexually assaulting a minor in the state of Maine, and he has a trial coming up. However, Tomaselli's own father calls his son a liar. First, he denies his son's allegation that he sexually abused him, and he says his son is making the whole thing up about Bernie Fine.

FRED TOMASELLI, ESTRANGED FATHER OF FINE'S ACCUSER: I brought him to two or three games in Syracuse. I never brought him to a game in Pittsburgh or let him go to a game in Pittsburgh, never went to any after parties, never let him alone doing that kind of thing. We went to a few games, and always in the nosebleed section. We never got good seats down near or within shouting distance of Bernie Fine. And I never talked to Bernie Fine or ever met him and Zach hasn't either. So it's all fabricated.

CANDIOTTI: Tomaselli's father says so far he has not been contacted by police.

Now, Tomaselli also says that Syracuse police tell him that the statute of limitations in the state of New York has run out in terms of sexual allegations. However, they also advised him, that if the federal government decides to prosecute, that statute of limitations has not yet run out. Christine and Alina?


CHO: Susan Candiotti, thank you very much.


CHO: Well, new video of Miley Cyrus is sparking controversy. In it the pop star is celebrating her 19th birthday, but it's the comment about the cake that has people fired up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, ladies. And the real party --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This cake is the best. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know you're a stoner when your friends make you a Bob Marley cake. You know you smoke way too much weed.



ROMANS: "You know you smoke way too much blanking weed," she says.

CHO: I thought she was perfect. I thought all the Disney stars were perfect.


CHO: They say it was all a joke. Kelly Osbourne is coming to her rescue on Twitter. She says she wasn't serious. It was a joke. People, back off and leave her alone.

ROMANS: She says she was angry that one of their friends turned over the tape, first of all, or the video. So how could she do all the wonderful things she does with her life and her amazing career if she was a stoner?

CHO: You know what I would say, every mic is hot.

ROMANS: All right, up next, you know him from the "Harold and Kumar" franchise. Actor Kal Penn is here. It's 38 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Well, if you weren't awake before, you are now. Good morning, Washington, D.C., where it's cloudy and 54 degrees, going up to a high of 69. Are you kidding me? Is it the end of November?

ROMANS: It's going to be a beautiful day in the nation's capital. Welcome back.

Our next guest worked in that White House, the Obama White House, for two years before calling it quits. , no take a cushy consulting job or to run for office himself. No, he left in part to continue to star in a successful series of stoner films. Yes, stoner films. Here is a look at the latest one in theaters now, "A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys all right?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kumar? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a second. That was you at the tree farm? You took my tree? So you killed two of my trees in one night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. That is a perfectly salvageable tree. That was a perfectly salvageable tree.


CHO: Kal Penn joining us now to talk about politics, Hollywood, and even a new video game. Nice to see you. Thanks for coming in.


CHO: Kal Penn is actually your full first name, right?

PENN: Correct.

CHO: Now, tell me, after two years in Washington, D.C., working in the White House, where they say in D.C., you know, if you want a friend, go get a dog, what was it like to go back to the shark infested waters of Hollywood?

PENN: You know, both towns are actually oddly similar, because they are one industry towns in each one. But I enjoyed it. I was very blessed to have really good friends. All of my White House colleagues were phenomenal. We kind of knew each other on the years on the campaign trail for the president.

So I think I had a different experience because I knew I was there for two years and then would go back to something creative. So I sort of didn't have the grind of --

ROMANS: There was an end in sight.

PENN: Exactly

ROMANS: But you worked hard. People say you were attached to your BlackBerry. You were in it.

PENN: Everyone who works there works. My hat goes off to them. They work incredibly long hours. And, obviously, it's an honor to serve your country in any form. And it was incredible. I loved every second of it.

CHO: And there you are with President Obama. Well, you were looking like best friends there. But, you know, everybody wants to know, is the real West Sing like "The West Sing" show? And you tell this great story about your first night at the White House and trying to order in Chinese food.

PENN: It's nothing like "West Wing" TV show. I remember thinking the food is in the Eisenhower building, which is where most of the staff are, the cafeteria closes at 1:00 in the afternoon. So you're working until 10:00, 11:00 at night. And you're not allowed to order Chinese food. I'm thinking to myself, we can all order some food. And they are saying you can't. So you learn very quickly to bring your food in the morning if you're going to stay late.

ROMANS: Where you also disillusioned by the political process? When you look at like, you know, approval ratings, Congress, walking away after working inside of it for two years, do you feel more clarity about how things work in D.C. or do you feel more like disgust, get me back to Hollywood where things are real?

PENN: Yes, right. No, I actually feel less cynical now than when I started, which I know sounds ridiculous if you're kind of paying attention to the spin. But I worked on youth issues for the most part. So the things that I was working on were the president increasing financial aid and providing health care to folks and a lot of youth entrepreneurship pieces.

ROMANS: So the whole student loan revamp?

PENN: A lot of that stuff. So for me it was regardless of whether you're a Democrat or Republican, for a lot of young folks in particular, the next generation there was a lot of hopeful things that we worked on.

CHO: For people who aren't familiar, tell us about the "Harold and Kumar" series and the latest movie.

PENN: Sure. So "Harold and Kumar" is now -- I can't believe it's a series. We shot the first movie, it's a buddy comedy about two friends who in the first one went to go get hamburgers. The second one they escaped from Guantanamo Bay. They're sort of your traditional buddy comedy. They are also known as stoner movies. They're also known as -- everyone seems to attach a certain label to them.

This one is a Christmas movie. So -- wholly inappropriate Christmas movie, I should add. Don't take your children to see it.

CHO: And don't try to put out a fire with pillows.

PENN: That's right.

ROMANS: The stoner movie, the stoner part. How does a guy get a job in the -- in the -- in the White House after being known for a stoner? Did they ask you about this on the --


PENN: They didn't ask me about the movie. I mean, everyone goes through the same -- same background check. This is beauty of -- this is why I love acting.

ROMANS: They asked you about why you have been fired right? Just how many jobs did you get fired from?

PENN: Exactly, yes. You have to fill out on your security clearance, have you been fired from jobs? And I had been fired from two sitcoms when I was younger for not being funny enough. So that's really what I said on the form. I think they're going to think that I am making fun of them, but I honest to goodness I was fired for that reason.

ROMANS: It's not just the movie. You have a video game and maybe a new workplace comedy in the works? You're not a boring or bored person. You got out of Washington and you are working still.

PENN: Yes look I feel really blessed that I could come back and be creative. There's an awesome video called "Rainman Origins" that I have been involved in. I'm not a big violent kind of shoot them up video game guy and this one is all hand-drawn art that they fed into a computer. So you can see this really neat --

CHO: It looks pretty docile.

PENN: Yes.

CHO: Yes.

PENN: It's a lot of fun. They have four-player opt in. So I -- I mean, my Friday nights are usually spent playing video games and I play some of --


ROMANS: So what's it called? "Rainman Origins".

PENN: Rainman Origins.

CHO: You know with obviously President Obama is in a tough re- election fight.

PENN: Sure.

CHO: I mean, are you going to head back out there on the campaign trail and campaign for him? Are you going to go back to D.C.? I know you're headed back there in the short-term.

PENN: Yes.

CHO: But you're going to go back, or are you going to do it from L.A., or what are you going to do?

PENN: You know I'm not sure physically where I will be but I absolutely would love to volunteer and give him a hand. I think before I started working in D.C., I had friends over in Iraq and Afghanistan. To see them actually have the chance to come home now to see a lot more of the focus on things like that, it's all positive. And I think he's done a tremendous job and I'd love to help him out again.

CHO: Well, you brought a lot of positive attention to the White House just by virtue of working there. Anyway great -- best of luck on all of your new projects.

PENN: Thank you very much.

ROMANS: I know. Kal Penn, really nice to meet you. Thanks for dropping by.

PENN: Nice to meet you. Thanks very much.

CHO: Bye.

Your "Morning Headlines" are next. Also ahead, behind the scenes of the Victoria's Secret fashion show -- Kal, stick around for this -- including a look at those iconic angel wings. How are they made?

Kal wants to know.

ROMANS: It's a serious investigative piece.

CHO: It's 47 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Forty-nine minutes after the hour. Here are your "Morning Headlines".

It's Election Day in Egypt. Voters are heading to the polls as thousands of demonstrators continue their occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo. The process of picking a new parliament is scheduled to last into March.

The man charged with trying to assassinate President Obama is headed to court today for a preliminary hearing. 21-year-old Oscar Ortega Hernandez is accused of firing gunshots at the White House. The President was in California on the day of the shooting.

Syracuse University has now fired associate men's basketball coach Bernie Fine. He's accused of sexually abusing two former ball boys. The announcement coming after ESPN aired a secretly recorded conversation between the coach's wife, Laurie, and his initial accuser, Bobby Davis, which suggests Laurie Fine new about the abuse.

A University of Utah professor and father of two young children accused of watching child pornography on his laptop is set to be arraigned today. It allegedly happened onboard a Delta flight to Boston on Saturday. Police say another passenger took a cell phone photo of 47-year-old Grant Smith watching the video, and then told the crew.

The family of a Florida A&M drum major who died after a suspected hazing incident now plans to sue the school. They are holding a news conference later today.

Wall Street protesters standing their ground despite deadlines to leave. Police telling "Occupy L.A." protesters to clear out. Protesters were warned they would be arrested if they were still on the streets after 4:30 a.m. West Coast time. In Philadelphia, mean while, protesters ignored an eviction notice and staged a sit-in.

We're on track for a strong opening when the markets open in about 45 minutes or less. Right now, the DOW, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 futures are all up by more than two percent. And millions of bargain hunters are expected to log on for today's Cyber Monday deals, the retail industry's latest marketing creation. Analysts predict that shoppers will spend a record $1.2 billion.

That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back after this.


ROMANS: Good morning, New York City. Cloudy and 61, it will be 65 later. Happy spring. Oh, wait, it's the end of November.

CHO: You know there was -- there was some talk that there might be rain in New York, but let's hope no rain today.

ROMANS: I know, welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

The Victoria's Secret fashion show is without a doubt the most watched and perhaps the most anticipated fashion event in the world.

CHO: You know I went for the taping for the very first time. It is something to see, and let's be honest, it is not about the underwear. It's about the model and what they are wearing on their backs. We're talking about those wings.

So what goes into making them? I recently went behind the scenes to have a look.


CHO (voice-over): The Victoria's Secret fashion show may be the only one in the world that celebrates models wearing almost nothing. And the only one that features these, wings. Beautiful wings.

DOUTZEN KROES'S, SUPERMODEL: Every girl that does Victoria's Secret wants the wings. It's a really big deal. I don't think people know how big of a deal it is.

CHO: This is supermodel Doutzen Kroes's fifth year walking the show.

KROES: Who doesn't want to wear this?

CHO: But only her third as a Victoria's Secret angel wearing wings.

KROES: I saw those wings, and they were coming closer and closer, and I was like, yay.

CHO (on camera): Do you ever get wings and have them taken away?


CHO: Ok.

THOMAS: That's -- that's unacceptable.

CHO: That -- that would be devastating?


CHO: Todd Thomas is the man behind the wings.

CHO: Not every model gets a wing.

THOMAS: Not everybody does, no.

CHO: Thomas gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of this year's wing collection for the latest show.

THOMAS: This year we've topped ourselves. Both in the number of looks and in the number of wings. We have 68 looks. And we have 31 wings.

CHO: Some people might think every look has a wing. Not true.

THOMAS: No, it's not true.

CHO: That's because if every look did, models would have trouble passing each other on the catwalk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are beautiful, very big. The only thing when on the runway, it takes all the space on the runway. So when my girlfriend is crossing me, I have to give a little turn.

CHO: The wings are elaborate.

THOMAS: This is an automated pair of wings.

CHO: Made from everything from feathers to aluminum.

ARMANDO FARFAN (PH), WING DESIGNER: As big as we go or as heavy as we go or as incredibly spectacular as we go, they have to be light.

CHO: To this one, gold plated with Swarovski crystals, costing $100,000, and weighing 35 pounds.

(on camera): Tell me about walking with the wing. That takes practice.

DOUTZEN KROES, MODEL: Yes. Yes. That's why it's good you start small and get bigger.

CHO (voice-over): They are all handmade. The process starts nine months before the show with sketches and then prototypes and then about three months before the wing team gets to work.

(on camera): So months?

THOMAS: Months, yes.

CHO: This isn't just slapped together in a week.

THOMAS: It's not like "PS, by the way, we're doing this wing."

CHO: Once it's show time -- do you get nervous?

KROES: Oh, yes, of course.

CHO: You do?

KROES: I'm in underwear.


CHO: You know, she's only 26 or maybe 27 years old. She just had a baby.

ROMANS: How tall is she?

CHO: These women -- I mean above 6 feet.

ROMANS: I mean she's a little taller than you are.

CHO: These women are avatars. Yes, a little -- try a foot, yes, she is being kind. I said, Christine, even you would seem a little short compared to these Victoria's Secret models.

ROMANS: They are tall and thin and beautiful.

CHO: They are. You should see what goes into the whole workout and eating regime before the show. But anyway, that's a whole other story. The Victoria's Secret fashion show will air on CBS tomorrow.

ROMANS: All right. Wow, they're skinny and tall.

CHO: They are.

ROMANS: All right. 56 minutes after the hour.


ROMANS: All right. Starting the day with Michael Buble.

CHO: That's my favorite song.

ROMANS: Really?

That's Atlanta. It's kind of rainy. 62. Light rain. Yes. It's going to get moving today. Stay inside if you can.

CHO: That's right. It's Cyber Monday, of course. And you can shop. And if you are doing that, go ahead and pick up Christine Romans and Ali Velshi's new book, "How to Speak Money", on the bestseller list.

ROMANS: Thank you.

CHO: Congratulations.

ROMANS: I can tell everyone, don't spend your money, ladies and gentlemen. You don't need to shop in honor of a holiday, come on, but in that case, it's all right.

Kyra Phillips starts right now, "CNN NEWSROOM". Good morning, Kyra.