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American Morning

Payroll Tax Peace; Holiday Travel Tour; Best Buy Cancels Some Holiday Orders; Salvation Army Strikes Gold; Congress Likely to Pass Payroll Tax Cut Extension; Interview with Documentary Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock; Morgan Spurlock and "Super" New Series; Converting Venus and Children

Aired December 23, 2011 - 07:59   ET


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: We've got a deal. I'm Alina Cho. The House voting in 90 minutes to keep the payroll tax cut in place past the New Year.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: And holiday travel trouble. I'm Deb Feyerick.

Snow in the east and west, plus, heavy wind and rain causing flights to be delayed. More on what to expect as you hit the road -- on this AMERICAN MORNING.


FEYERICK: I don't know where I'm going. It's Christmas, it's New Year's, everybody is going away.

CHO: Good morning, everybody. It's 8:00 in the East Coast and 5:00 in the West. It's Friday, December 23rd, two days before Christmas.

I'm Alina Cho, along with Deb Feyerick. So glad you're with us.

FEYERICK: Up first this morning, an early Christmas present for 160 million working Americans. The House is expected to vote in about 90 minutes on extending the payroll tax cut that has divided Washington for weeks.

CHO: House Republicans caved yesterday after a lot of arm- twisting by President Obama, who said it was the disgust of the American people that broke the log jam.

Speaker John Boehner saying his side still wanted a one-year extension, but in the end, saw the political reality.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have fought the fight, a good fight. But, you know, I talked to enough members over the last 24 hours who believe that, hey, listen. We don't like to set two-month extension and we don't like this reporting problem in the Senate bill. And if you can get this fixed, why not, why not do the right thing for the American people? Even though it's not exactly what we want.


FEYERICK: So, how long will the tax payroll tax peace endure, joining us now from D.C. is "STATE OF THE UNION" host Candy Crowley.

Candy, first of all, your thoughts. It seems that everybody is excited that they've done something that only lasts for two deals, for two months. It seems so --

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm thinking maybe we should use the word relieved. I don't know how excited any of them are. Yes.

No, listen, there's such a frustration on both sides on Capitol Hill because, honestly, we have the same argument over and over again. The arena changes -- you know, it's the debt ceiling or it's an ominous budget bill. In this case, it was about these payroll tax cuts. But the argument is always the same which is how are you going to pay for this?

So, you know, there is a frustration on Capitol Hill on both sides that they spin their wheels quite a bit on the same arguments.

CHO: Candy, I want to talk a little bit about political fallout because you see John Boehner, the House speaker, saying first, a two- month extension is just kicking the can down the road and, oh, wait a minute, maybe politically, that wasn't the smart thing to do. We're going to agree to this two-month extension.

"The Wall Street Journal," as you know, said they basically -- Republicans basically handed President Obama the re-election. I mean, you know, what are the smart minds saying about this?

CROWLEY: Well, any number of things. But, first, let's remember it is December and the election is not until next November. What is damaging about this, I think, is not that people in November are going to go, remember, remember last year when they almost didn't give us this payroll tax cut because so much is going to happen between now and then.

But what happened is that the Democrats were able to strengthen their storyline. You know, you have to get it into the ground water, if you will, out there in the public saying, you know what, those Republicans, they protect millionaires but they don't care about you. And this perfectly fit into that storyline because they went out every day, whether it was the White House or a Democrat on Capitol Hill and said, wait a minute. They've been protecting millionaires all year long from a tax increase and now they're going to give you a tax increase.

So, it is damaging in the sense that it adds to that, but not in the particulars of it, if that makes sense.

FEYERICK: You know, and also, Candy, one thing, when you look at the overall issue here. We're looking at extending a tax cut that is already in place -- from now 4.2 percent, it's going to go up to 6.2 percent if they don't work something out. But if this is what happens when we're looking at tax, extending something that exists already, what is going to happen if the topic of real tax reform comes up?

Nothing is -- it's not going to be a stalemate, it's going to be an intellectual shut down.

CROWLEY: It is. It's going to be messy and it may well get ugly. But, in fact, that's what you're going to see Republicans pushing for all next year.

Take this argument, again, we've been having it all year long. Where are we going to save money? Where are we going to either cut spending or raise taxes?

You've got the Bush tax cuts that are going to expire this next year. So, there's going to be a lot of talk about that because, as you know, the Democrats want to end that tax cut for the upper bracket. So, that will be an argument.

But everything that comes up is about money on Capitol Hill. That's what they do. They disperse money. So, all next year -- go ahead.

FEYERICK: I was going to say, first, they were talking about basically freezing the salaries of federal employees. And then they were looking to take - to get the money and go after the mortgage -- the people who got mortgages with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So, it's all up in the air. It's like being a juggler at a big circus.

CROWLEY: And the thing is, these little things don't really get us there. Everybody knows they have to be big things like reform of entitlements and the tax cut.

CHO: And that's exactly what I wanted to get to because -- you know, I mean, you know, we hear all the time about the do nothing Congress, the do nothing Congress and, yes, this is a two-month extension. I mean, you covered politics a long time.

I mean, doesn't it, at a certain point, just boggle the mind? They hear it all the time up there and, yet, there's still this log jam all the time.

CROWLEY: There is. But let me just back up one second and say, there are huge philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats. And so, we tend to look at it through the political prism because we're on the eve of an election year, but there are also deep policy divisions on the size of the government. That's what it all boils down to. What do you want your government to do?

CHO: Candy, why are you getting all practical on us?

CROWLEY: I'm sorry.


FEYERICK: These people just want the government to work. I think they just want them to play nicely, OK. If you got five-year- olds who can play nicely, I'm pretty sure you can hammer out a deal.

CROWLEY: What five-year-olds do you know that play nicely?

FEYERICK: Well, grownups make them play nicely sometimes.

Anyway, Candy Crowley, thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

FEYERICK: Just a few days now from 2012. So, you can't miss "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley, every Sunday starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

CHO: Well, for the millions of you who are traveling this Christmas holiday, a number of storms could put your trip in jeopardy.

First, out west to Colorado where a storm is blanketing much of the state. I mean, just look at those pictures. Some areas in and around Denver getting up to a foot or more of snow. The storm is also forcing airlines to cancel dozens of flights.

FEYERICK: And to the south of Colorado, in New Mexico, a family of three safe this morning after spending nearly two days, that's right, two days trapped in their SUV. They were buried in a snow drift. Rescuers had to dig through four feet of ice and snow to get them out.

CHO: And we want to take a live look at New York City right now where there are just a few lingering showers out there this morning. It was raining when I came in at about 4:00 this morning. Just north of us, light snow in New England could cause some minor delays on the roads and at the major airports.

FEYERICK: And in Georgia, homes damaged and trees down and power is out to thousands after a severe line of storms swept through the state last night. At least seven people were injured in northern Georgia.

There's also a nearly three-hour ground stop at Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. It affected 5,200 planes.

You're now looking at a live shot of Atlanta and at least the weather is clearing up somewhat. So, hopefully, the lines and delays will, too.

CHO: Let's go live now to our Holly Firfer. She's live at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

Holly, earlier this morning, we were talking about how the coffee lines were longer than the security lines because so many people had to spend the night at the airport. What is it looking like now?

HOLLY FIRFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alina, what a difference a day makes. It is running smoothly now. You know, hundreds of people were stuck at the airport. They slept in the lobby. They slept anywhere they could find a chair. And now the skies are clearing. It's supposed to be a nice day.

The traffic here at the airport is definitely picking up. The lines are still manageable, but there's a lot of people who are still inside who never left from yesterday. We talked to a couple of those passengers earlier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am supposed to be celebrating Christmas in just like two hours with my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, my wife is driving over from Tulsa to pick me up because the first two flights out this morning are both full they said.


FIRFER: And I got to tell you, though, Alina, people here still in good spirits. I guess maybe because it's the holiday and they're going on vacation.

When I was walking through the airport this morning, there was a guy with a big tub of popcorn. And I said, where did you get that? He said, oh, have some. And he was sharing it with all his neighbors there who had spent the night.

And he said, well, I was bringing it to my family for the holidays, but I figured, since we're here, we might as well have breakfast. I'll just go shopping when I get there.

CHO: Popcorn for breakfast.

FEYERICK: People are so elegant.

CHO: You can take what you can get there.

FEYERICK: It's like the new egg.

CHO: Exactly.

FEYERICK: Well, Reynolds Wolf in the extreme weather center.

And, Reynolds, boy, nobody expected this. Obviously, nobody ever does. But you have to kind of be practical.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, very much so, no question about it.

You know, with the rough weather we had in parts of the Southeast, thankfully it has pushed on people just have to deal with, but always does seem and always during the holidays you just have people trying to get from point A to point B around the country and very seldom does the weather cooperate -- unless you happen to be in Colorado, it was bad for drivers.

But I got to tell you, some of these numbers were seeing here actually very good for some of the ski resorts. They were desperate for the snow. It came not in inches but in feet yesterday.

Take a look at the storm totals. In Southwest Boulder, over three feet of snowfall in Pinecliff, Colorado, thirty-six inches of snowfall nearly down as you get to Crescent Village, even Golden, Colorado, 27.5 inches of snowfall and then over 20 inches of snowfall in Colorado and Evergreen.

You know, obviously, terrible for a lot of the people that are just trying to drive from one part of the freeway to the other, but for the ski country, I'm telling you, this is just phenomenal.

Something else we have been seeing -- a lot of the focus of the heavy snow now pushing a bit more to the south into parts of New Mexico, back into Arizona. We do have the winter storm warnings that are in effect. The winds are going to be strong, too.

So, anyone making that drive along parts of 25 or even 40 in those high mountain passes, you have not only the snow to deal with, but the winds will help pick it up. It's going to limit visibility. So, very difficult times. Please, be careful out there. It's getting very close to a foot of snowfall at higher levels around 7,500 feet.

Now, something else we're going to be seeing around the nation, a glut of cool temperatures now moving through the central and southern Rockies. Thirty-seven degrees for Denver. That's going to be your high for the day. And Albuquerque, 31. As you might imagine, El Paso with 40, 61 in San Francisco and 46 in Portland and upper 40s back in New York.

New York is also where you're going to find a line of delays, major delays at all of your airports. Newark, yes, you're going to be included in that. For Boston, for Philadelphia, D.C. metros, wind and rain will be problems.

In Minneapolis, yes, it's going to be the frozen precipitation that may give you some delays. But for now, we foresee only delays only under an hour. That may stuck off into the afternoon. But now, it looks like it might be slight.

The cold air, we talked about that. It's going to make its way all the way down to the Gulf Coast. It's been very mild in parts of Georgia and Alabama, all that changes today.

It will be dropping down a bit more. Some scattered flurries for much of the Great Lakes. A mix of sun and clouds for parts of the upper plains. But back in the Pacific Northwest, shocker, I know. A chance of scattered showers, yes, rain in Seattle and the highest elevations you might deal with a touch of snowfall.

Plenty of sunshine for California and, again, the snowfall. Could it be a white Christmas for Upstate New York and back to Vermont, New Hampshire. It may hang on a bit more places like Toronto where Ali Velshi happens to be. We'll have some snow waiting for him when he shows up, but not so much for Christmas Day.

CHO: All right. Reynolds Wolf, thank you very much.

WOLF: You bet, guys.

CHO: You know, every year, the folks over at the website Jib Jab put together their year in review video and this year they did not disappoint. From wining with Charlie Sheen to that bruising battle over the debt ceiling, they got it all covered. Take a look.


CHO: Nobody was spared.

FEYERICK: Nobody was spared. They got the economy. They got in the obits. They got in a couple celebrities, you know?

CHO: Occupy Wall Street.

FEYERICK: In 53 seconds. That's right. Exactly. That's the news.

CHO: Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING: many Republicans are still lukewarm about Mitt Romney. Well, what if Chris Christie was his vice president? What the New Jersey governor says about being number two. That's next.

FEYERICK: And are you in a rut? Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is here to help. His new web series helping people live their dreams, even though life may be taking them some place else.

CHO: And the next time somebody asks you if you get up on the wrong side of the bed, you'll actually have a real answer. There was a study done on this. There is really a wrong side of the bed. We'll tell you which side it is.

It's 14 minutes past the hour.


FEYERICK: A little Hawaiian music there coming out of Washington because although President Obama is in town, well, his wife and family are already starting their vacation in Hawaii. It's mostly cloudy, about 50 degrees later. It's going to go up to a high of 52. Good day to walk around there.

CHO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING on a Friday. It's 17 minutes after the hour.

It's the number one issue in the race for the white house. We're talking, of course, about the economy. And according to a new CNN/ORC poll, take a look, 57 percent of Americans say the economy is the most important issue facing this country. And when asked what's the most important economic problem, 51 percent say unemployment and 27 percent say it's the deficit.

FEYERICK: Mitt Romney picking up another endorsement. This one could be a biggy. It's from a former president, George Bush 41.

CHO: And in a new interview, we also found out that President George H.W. Bush is really not a fan of Newt Gingrich. CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, joins us now with a little bit more on that. Hey, Paul, good morning. I'm afraid to ask.


PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: You know, I guess, this is another sign of establishment Republicans coming out and backing Mitt Romney. No doubt about this. And here, we're talking about former President George Herbert Walker Bush, Bush 41, not 43, right? We don't want to get a mixed up with W. This is the daddy.

And in "The Houston Chronicle," he called the former Massachusetts governor the best choice for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination. He went on to say, I just think he's mature and reasonable and not a bomb thrower. Romney himself said he had no idea that the endorsement was coming.

Now, you mentioned, Gingrich, what did Bush have to say about Gingrich? Not a lot of good things. He said, I'm not his biggest advocate.

FEYERICK: And, Paul, you know, looking at those pictures there, we also think that another person who endorsed Mitt Romney, Governor Chris Christie, but now his name is back in the rumor mill, not for president, but for a different position, potentially.

STEINHAUSER: Yes, Deb, I tell you. Listen, I lost my ear piece here, that's why I can't hear you, guys, right now. I'm sorry about that. My earpiece fell out, and I will be putting it right back in as you show this video of Christie and Romney together. Remember, a lot of Republicans wanted Christie to run himself.

He didn't run, and now, I can hear you, again, sorry about that. He didn't run for president. He did back Mitt Romney, and now, will he take a VP slot? Let's say Mitt Romney wins the nomination, Christie said in an interview yesterday at Fox News that, yes, we'll think about it.

The wife and I will think about it, but he went on to say, Deb, he went on to say, listen, I think, next year at this time, it's going to be president-elect Mitt Romney and somebody else as vice president elect and I will still be governor of New Jersey.

But, look, whoever wins the GOP nomination, I think picking Chris Christie would not hurt at all. He's got a lot of energy, a lot of Republicans nationwide like him.

CHO: Meanwhile, you know, people know by now that with just less than two weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich has been slipping in the polls of late. So, he's lowering expectations, isn't he, Paul?

STEINHAUSER: Yes. It seems he is, at least, maybe in the state of Iowa. And you're right, so much has changed just in the last two weeks. Two weeks ago, Gingrich's numbers were going up, and now, it's starting to fade a little bit. In Iowa, remember, we're just 11 days away from that caucus and nationwide. So, take a listen to what he said on the campaign trail yesterday.


NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're coming together very fast in Iowa, and I suspect we'll be very, very competitive. My goal is to be in the top three or four. And we can't tell. There's very bunch (ph) right now in the sheer weight of money to be in the top three or four.

I'd love to win, but be in the top three or four and probably be the top two in New Hampshire and then to win South Carolina and Florida and from that point on, I think it becomes a pretty easy race.


STEINHAUSER: So, was he talking a lower expectations and then beat them, which is always a good thing in politics? But, as you saw there at the end, he wasn't that modest because he thinks he can finish in the top two in New Hampshire, and then, go on and take South Carolina and Florida, the next states to follow.

This race has been wild, and it's going to be another interesting battle right down to the end.

FEYERICK: That's right. Lower expectations, expectations, potato, potato. Paul Steinhauser, thanks so much. Do not miss what this is all leading up to the Iowa caucuses, the candidates' first two test, Tuesday, January 3rd, special live coverage right here. Best political team on TV starts 7:00 p.m. eastern time.

CHO: Check of the early morning financial markets is next.

Plus, watch out for the Grinch. With Christmas just a few days away, the world's largest electronic store is actually telling customers now that some of their online orders won't arrive in time. What went wrong? You won't believe the answer. It's 22 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Welcome back. It's 25 minutes after the hour. Watching your money this morning.

A black eye for Best Buy. The retailer is reportedly canceling some holiday online orders just days before Christmas. The company says, it's run out of merchandise because of the overwhelming demand on If you're still shopping for some holiday gifts, there are some aggressive last-minute deals out there. Analyst tells a "New York Times" more retailers are offering entire store discounts in these final two days before Christmas.

This morning, we'll get a fresh few read on the economy. We'll be getting new reports on personal income and personal spending for November as well as last month's new home sales.

Ahead of those reports, U.S. stock futures are trading higher today. The Dow has rallied for the past three days.

And the Salvation Army striking gold, literally. The group saying so far this season, they've collected 40 gold coins in their red kettles. Someone also left 14 Swiss gold franks. Those coins together are worth nearly $3,000.

Still ahead, we're live from the White House as the payroll tax deadlock ends.

And, new developments overnight in Syria as twin suicide bombs shake the capital city of Damascus. AMERICAN MORNING is back after this.



REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE SPEAKER: May not have been politically the smartest thing in the world.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Well, the House scheduled to vote today on keeping the payroll tax cut right where it is, but the GOP is still a party pretty divided. Is the White House declaring victory? All that on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHO: Welcome back. It's 29 minutes after the hour. Your top stories now.


CHO (voice-over): The U.S. is offering $10 million for the capture of an alleged al Qaeda operative. Yasin al-Suri is accused of running money and new recruits from Iran to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Officials say al-Suri is a chief fundraiser for the terror group and a danger to the U.S. His capture could shut down a big financial resource for al Qaeda.

FEYERICK: And suicide bombers strike two government buildings in Syria. This morning, car bombs exploded outside security offices in Damascus. Witnesses say they also heard heavy gunfire. Syrian TV reporting a number of military and civilian casualties. Reports say these attacks point to Al Qaeda. New Zealand rocked by twin earthquakes today. A 5.8 magnitude quake struck Christchurch and then less than 90 minutes later another 5.8 magnitude quake hit. Several aftershocks followed. Falling rocks caused some problems for drivers and at least two people were injured.

And a fresh blanket of snow complicating travel plans for some folks this morning as they head home for the holidays. Almost a foot of snow fell in Denver. In New England light snow could cause minor delays today on the roads and, of course, that major airports.

FEYERICK: Back to our top story. A pause in the gridlock in Washington. The House is expected to vote in one hour on extending the payroll tax cut that has divided Washington for weeks. So what's in it for you? The legislation will keep the payroll tax rate at 4.2 percent that otherwise would have expired on December 31 and shot up to 6.2 percent. But keep in mind, this expires at the end of two months unless Congress takes additional action. It comes out to about $83 per month for the average family. That works out to about $1,000 over the course of the year. But, again, this is only a two-month extension.

And President Obama immediately congratulated congressional leaders on the deal. CNN's Dan Lothian live at the White House. Dan, interesting, because the president who's been urging tax increases now comes out looking as if he's instrumental on tax cuts.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And all of this coming because there was so much pressure on house Republicans. First of all, pressure from the public when some of these lawmakers were back at home where they were hearing over the phone from their constituents who wanted them to get something done. President Obama put the pressure, using the public through Twitter and their blogs to weigh in on what that $40 each pay check would mean to them. He was surrounded by some of those folks yesterday here at the White House.

So Republicans bent to pressure from the public, but also pressure from within their own party. As you pointed out, president Obama upon this deal being reached did talk about how his administration had been working very hard to make sure that 160 million Americans did not see their taxes go up. He congratulated Congress and also thanked them for, quote, "ending the partisan stalemate." He went on to say, quote, "This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people's lives."

And, of course, he pointed out that this comes at a very good time, good news during the holiday season. It does remove some of the uncertainty, at least temporarily, and the administration believes is good for the economy.

CHO: Dan, speaking of the holiday season. When does the president leave for Hawaii?

(LAUGHTER) LOTHIAN: Well, you know, we have to assume now that this deal has been reached that the president will, in fact, be going. But, still, his schedule is very open today. In fact, typically the night before they put out a schedule that will give you the exact time that the president is meeting with his senior advisors, the senior national security advisors and others. But the schedule simply said TBD. And, so, we are waiting to find out what the president will be doing over the next several hours, but we do expect that he will be going to Hawaii at some point.

CHO: All right, thank you so much, Dan Lothian.

FEYERICK: And atheists and Christian groups battling across the country over the display of nativity scenes in public places. Thousands of supporters in the nativity scene at the county courthouse in Athens, Texas, gathered, defending religious displays there. Atheists group said nativity scenes from Texas to California to Ohio threatening to sue over separation of church and state.

CHO: This is my personal favorite story of the day. An unemployed woman in Georgia is using her Christmas display to find a job. Take a look at this. Her lights actually say "My wish, HR Job. Liz Hickok, Linked In." Hickok was laid off from a human resources job back in September, and it looks like her festive plea just might be working.


HICKOK: I've had people stop when I'm out and telling me about positions that they know of their company or some other company. I've had a lot of Linked In messages and a lot of Linked In views.


CHO: That is so great. She's probably going to get a job pretty soon. She says she is getting e-mails from as far away as Italy.

FEYERICK: Liz See, it's not how many lights you put up, but how you put them up.

Another story that caught our eye this morning. There really is a wrong side of the bed. Getting up at 3:00 doesn't help. However, a new study says sleeping on the left side of the bed makes you more cheerful and positive than that grump next to you on the right. This is when you start -- this is really when you start sleeping face up. Lefty sleepers are more equipped to handle the stressful day ahead. The study of 3,000 adults was commissioned by the largest hotel chain in the U.K.

CHO: I'm still trying to figure out when it's left side facing the headboard or the foot of the bed.

FEYERICK: If your head is at the pillow, I would be on the left. So I guess I'm cheerful.

CHO: Up next, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is here in our studios. The "Supersize Me" star is going to fill us in on his latest project, and it could jumpstart your own New Year's resolution. We'll have him on next. It's 36 minutes after the hour.


FEYERICK: Good morning, Atlanta, Georgia. It's two days before Christmas. Have you finished your shopping yet?

CHO: I haven't.

Cloudy 48 degrees. Partly cloudy and 60 later on in the morning or little later on in the day, actually. Welcome back, everybody.

FEYERICK: What you can't see is our whole crew doing the hula there to that great music. But anyway, it is never too late to follow your dreams. And perhaps no one knows that better than our next guest. Before making his Oscar nominated hit documentary "Supersize Me," Morgan Spurlock was evicted from his apartment. I don't know why I'm smiling.

MORGAN SPURLOCK, "FAILURE CLUB": Because it's hilarious.


FEYERICK: In the end, it is very funny. And $250,000 in debt. But, now he has found success and he says, you can, too. He is trying to prove it in his band new Web series.

CHO: It's called "The Failure Club."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I don't do this now, I'll never do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm nervous every night I go to sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fear I face is very simply. It's the fear of failure.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This could be very humiliating potentially.


CHO: Joining us now is filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. Great to see you. Good morning. I think what's interesting about this project is the title, quite frankly. Here you are talking about people pursuing their dreams and yet it's called "The Failure Project." Why?

SPURLOCK: The thing that keeps us held back is the fear of failure. And by embracing failure is really when you can break through and find success. And so what we want people to do is get rid of the stigma. Failure is not a bad thing, it's a good thing. CHO: And you have a great story about what inspired the project, right?

SPURLOCK: Yes. There was an incredible guy I met who about six years ago he and his group of friend started a failure club. They were pretty successful and they started talking about the things they would do if they had the chance. So he said, let's do that. This year, let's support one another. So he created this little support group where they help each other chase after their dreams. I said that's such a great idea. We have to share this with the world.

SPURLOCK: I think what's incredible about that is people say you learn more by failing than you do succeeding. People think in this world of instant gratification and immediate success, you have to get it or you're done. And I think what this proves, you don't even know the outcome of the lives of these people. So, this is reality television at its best, and it's unscripted, it's evolving because you're shooting it. And tell us about the people because they really are doing things that they, that will make them happy.

SPURLOCK: We found this incredible group of New Yorkers who some of them want to start their own businesses. One girl wants to write the most epic Christmas song she could ever write, so every year during the holidays people will hear her song. There's a 55-year-old woman who rode horses as a child and wants to competitively jump horses. She hasn't ridden a horse in 40 years.

And one of my favorite stories is a guy whose father passed away earlier this year and he father was a motorcycle fanatic, and he wants to build a motorcycle in honor of his father and go with his father's friends to the Grand Tetons.

CHO: The one question I had when I heard about this project was, you know, with the economy being what it is, I mean, just through your own research, or meeting these people, have you found that more people are inclined to say, you know what, I'm just going to go for it, go for the gusto, or I'm just going to stick around and do what I'm doing?

SPURLOCK: It's both. I think there are people that are still afraid. One obstacle we put around us is I can't do that, I don't have the money. We say we need financial success to go after the things we want. Once you start to say, you know, I'll find a way to make it happen, you'll find a way to make it happen.

One of the women in our club is someone who is laid off from her job, which is happening across the country, got a severance when she was fired, and she said if I don't start my own business now, I'll never do it. She's taking that money and launching her own business as part of the failure club.

FEYERICK: It's almost like what Steve Jobs said, which is you always have to realize that you don't know how long you're going to live. So for maybe many of these people they're saying, look, if I don't do it now, I'm never going to do it. So what do I have to lose? Life ultimately is very short. So, you might as well find something that you love to do, that you feel passionate about, that you can connect with.

SPURLOCK: That's what we tell people all the time. When you wake up in the morning, you want to wake up and ecstatic every single day. And these people are at this point. They've all reached that precipice where they're like, I have to go for. The only thing I can hope for next year is that people don't make New Year's resolutions, they make New Year's revolutions. I want failure clubs all across America.

CHO: It's interesting, because I think about this all the time because I happen to love what I do, but there are a lot of people who really do look at their jobs like jobs, which is really unfortunate. But having said that, I know it's early on in the project. You're only four weeks into it. But are you finding that people are, that that power of positive thinking, is it working?

SPURLOCK: Well, the amazing thing about it, their strength in numbers. When you are doing it by yourself is very hard and the beautiful thing of failure club is that once you have other people there, now you have people who are kind of answering to you and people who are calling you to task and are also there to support you. A lot of times we don't have the support we need to go after the things we want. So whether that's from family and friends, here are six other people who say, we believe in you and they are there to help you.

SPURLOCK: And it's often easier to give advice than to take your own advice. Sometime if I stopped and took the advice that I think is great advice that I'm giving other people, it might have a different perspective. Do you find these folks, are they, are they excited by this? I know we heard they're a little bit frightened by it, but they've also got to -- basically it's like jumping off a cliff. You don't know when you're going to hit bottom, in a good way.

SPURLOCK: Yes -- no and people are scared to death. I mean, when you watch -- when you watch the episodes on Yahoo Screen, I mean, you see people who are -- they are terrified.

CHO: Right.

SPURLOCK: I mean, it is a terrifying thing I'm going to say I'm going to do it. But what is incredible is once you take that first step, you go, why did it take me so long?

CHO: You know you mentioned Yahoo! And which brings me to my next point which is you call this your very own failure project.

SPURLOCK: It is that's right.

CHO: That's right let's talk about that.

SPURLOCK: This show is my failure club. Well we try it when I met Philip and it was you know six years ago and seven years ago, when he and I met, I said, we have to get this on television people have to see this and no network would touch this show. Because the production process is a year. We're shooting people for 52 weeks.


SPURLOCK: And people were afraid of like that long, long arduous production schedule. And we're like we don't know what we're going to get and it's very difficult. And now we're proving how engaging it is. How beautiful it is. How it kind of enlightening is watching these people.

CHO: Have you had some interest?

SPURLOCK: And there're been I mean, people started calling immediately when the show hit the air.

CHO: Right.

SPURLOCK: And I think that -- I think Yahoo! was a great place for the show.

FEYERICK: And I think ultimately what it's about, it's not necessarily you know will they fail, will they succeed, will it be a little bit of both, at least they're taking the risk to do it.

SPURLOCK: It's trying.

FEYERICK: And that's great about it. Well Morgan Spurlock, thank you so much.


FEYERICK: We're so excited.

SPURLOCK: Thank you.

FEYERICK: To see how these people do and what they learn and how they grow.

SPURLOCK: Thank you.

FEYERICK: And we wish them, we -- instead of failure, we call it the dreamer's club for folks who, you know --

SPURLOCK: No I wasn't going for failure; no as you said, the best things come out of little failure. A little goes a long way.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. Well, Morgan Spurlock a producer of Yahoo! and we're looking forward to the series. Thanks very much.

CHO: The Failure Club, happy holidays, as well.

SPURLOCK: Happy holidays.

CHO: You're "Morning Headlines" are next.

Also ahead, the one and only Jennifer Lopez. I sat down with her last week in Los Angeles. We'll bring that interview to you next. Its 46 minutes after the hour.


FEYERICK: Well, it's 50 after the hour as we like to say ten to 9:00 and here are your "Morning Headlines".

Markets open in 45 minutes. U.S. stock futures trading higher right now after some mixed news on the economy. Durable goods orders were up last month. Personal income and spending were both down slightly.

Well, the House expected to vote in less than one hour on extending the payroll tax cut for two months. This after House Speaker John Boehner announced that the GOP is onboard. It's a two- month deal for now that keeps $40 a week in your paycheck. So save it, spend it, but do it for the next two months.

Suicide bombers strike two government buildings in Syria. Syrian TV reporting a number of military and civilian casualties. Reports say the attacks bear the hallmark of al Qaeda.

And Pakistan is disputing the results of the Pentagon's investigation into last month's air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Defense Department's report found U.S. forces did act in self-defense after being fired upon. The Pakistani intelligence officials tell CNN the U.S. fired first.

And a Russian Soyuz rocket will dock at the International Space Station later this morning. This after two days of flights, it's carrying a crew of three astronauts and there will be a holiday welcoming ceremony when they get there.

Best Buy canceling some online orders, including those made back on black Friday. The electronics retailer says it was simply overwhelmed by the number of online sales and, unfortunately, it has run out of merchandise.

Light snow falling in parts of New England could cause some minor travel delays this morning. Travelers also dealing with some headaches down in Atlanta after a powerful storm there caused a nearly three-hour ground stop at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport affecting some 5,200 planes.

And NORAD counting down the minutes until Santa Claus takes off. Sure he didn't think we tracked him of course the U.S. tracks him. The North American air command using its high-tech stuff to track St. Nick again this year. And kids can now see when Santa is getting close on a new Track Smartphone app. So better keep your eyes close.

That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is coming back right after the other side of the break.


FEYERICK: Well, welcome back. "BIG STARS, BIG GIVING". That's our special series that shines the spotlight on celebrities and the causes they support. And as far as stars go, you don't get much bigger than Jennifer Lopez. CHO: That's right from Jenny from the block to fashion designer to "American Idol" judge, J-Lo seemingly does it all. But Lopez says it was a health scare with one of her twins that inspired her to give back to all the women and children who are less fortunate.

And just like she has done with her career, she's dreaming big.


CHO (voice-over): She's Hollywood's triple threat. She sings, dances, acts.

JENNIFER LOPEZ, SINGER/ACTRESS: You did not just poke me.

CHO: And now she's a judge on "American Idol."

LOPEZ: You're going to Hollywood.

CHO: She's Jennifer Lopez.

(on camera): You're a mother, you're a philanthropist, you're an actress, you're a singer, you're a dancer, you're a judge on "American Idol."

LOPEZ: I'm tired. What I am is I'm tired.

CHO: How do you do it all?

LOPEZ: I don't know. I don't know. One day at a time.

One step at a time.

CHO (voice-over): The theme song of her life and also the Maribel Foundation a non-profit Lopez started with her sister Linda in 2008. It was a health scare with her newborn daughter, Emmy, that encouraged her to act.

LOPEZ: She had this lump on her head all of a sudden and it was kind of soft and felt like water a little bit.

CHO (on camera): What did you think?

LOPEZ: I didn't know what it was. I showed it to Marc and I was like if this baby -- if this baby is not OK, I'm not going to be OK. We called the doctor in the middle of the night. We had access to the best health care.

We had all this privilege and I realized that when I went home and I was lying there at like 4:00 in the morning and I was like, what if I didn't have that? What if as a mom just sitting there and there was something wrong with my baby? No mother or child should ever have to go through that. Luckily for us it turned out OK.

CHO: So Lopez went to the world renowned Children's Hospital Los Angeles and asked them, how can I help?

LOPEZ: And they were like, well, there's a very new program called a telemedicine program.

CHO: When they said telemedicine, did you know what it was?

LOPEZ: Not really, no. I didn't. It's a technology, basically, where doctors from anywhere in the world can talk to each other.

CHO: Through video conferencing. The first telemedicine center sponsored by the Maribel Foundation opened this year in Puerto Rico. Panama is next.

LOPEZ: Are you cute?

I mean, that's the great part of being in the position I'm in.

That we can actually make a difference and really, really help people. The same dreamer in me that wanted to sing and dance and do all that is the same dreamer in me that wants to do something amazing for the world.


CHO: Really was a pleasure to sit down with Jennifer Lopez. You know you hear the word telemedicine and it really does bring specialists from the best corners of the world to places that don't have access to that type of health care and you might think it's such a great idea, why isn't it more prevalent and it's because it's expensive.

$300,000 to $400,000 to set up the center like the in Puerto Rico and another Two to $300 thousand to maintain. What Jennifer Lopez is doing is certainly helping move the needle to bringing more health care to mothers and children and it's a great thing. Good for her.

She'll change a couple lives and make a big difference, for sure.

Don't miss my holiday special "BIG STARS, BIG GIVING." And there's tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. And again on Sunday Christmas Day at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Well, it is four minutes to 9:00. That's 56 minutes to the hour.

We're back after this.


FEYERICK: That's our hard-working American morning staff that brings you a great show every morning and before we forget, we wanted to wish all of you out there a very Happy Festivus. Festivus is celebrated every December 23rd. So, you may not be going anywhere or doing anything, but on Festivus, it's time to celebrate. It was handed down by its creator George's dad in Seinfeld. We hope you put up your festivus police and train for the piece of strength. And if you don't know that's the --, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many Christmases ago I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rain blows upon them, I realized there had to be another way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to the doll?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born a festivus for the rest of us.


That's right. You could see our folks had that Festivus pole right now. We're wrapping up the show from here. Everybody have a great holiday. Happy 2012.

"CNN NEWDROOM" with Kyra Phillips starts right now. Hi Kyra.


Have a great holiday weekend.