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Piers Morgan Live
Defying Gadhafi's Crackdown; Analysis With Dr. Drew Pinsky; Interview With Kevin Smith
Aired February 25, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, is this Gadhafi's last stand? The U.N. says his forces are going house to house killing indiscriminately. Gadhafi's son says he will live and die in Libya. But the world is demanding that the Gadhafis give up.
We're live on the ground tonight.
Plus, eyewitness to chaos -- an American woman who just escaped from Libya tells her dramatic story.
Also tonight, it's Oscar weekend. But the news out of Hollywood is all about Charlie Sheen's meltdown. Is he done in this town? Is it possible he's really clean and sober? I'll ask Dr. Drew.
Then Hollywood's biggest insider, Director Kevin Smith.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN SMITH, FILM DIRECTOR: I hate talk shows, but I love green rooms. Thank you, Piers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The indie king on his most controversial film yet and his side of that "Flying While Fat" story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: I am not buying two seats on this Piers show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
MORGAN: Good evening.
The reports we're getting from Tripoli tonight paint a picture of a city under siege. Moammar Gadhafi's own people are flooding Twitter and Facebook with eyewitness accounts of the horrifying bloodshed. And today, the world is finally reacting.
Listen to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: People cannot leave their houses for fear of being shot by government forces or militias. Gadhafi supporters are reportedly conducting house-by-house searches and arrests. According to some reports, they have even gone into hospitals to kill wounded opponents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: A rebel-controlled eastern Libya that pitches very different there. People are flooding the streets in a show of solidarity with the citizens of Tripoli.
CNN's Ben Wedeman is live in Benghazi tonight.
Good evening, Ben. What are you sensing now about what we're seeing in terms of Gadhafi and the people? Is this the beginning of the end? Or could this just get worse and worse?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, whether it's the beginning of the end or maybe beyond that point, I don't think anybody doubts. But whether it will get worse, the feeling is yes. Things could get very bad at this point.
We're hearing about more mercenaries coming in. Some Libyan exile groups are saying that mercenaries from Eastern Europe, from the Ukraine, for instance, and Serbia have been brought in in addition to those African mercenaries we've seen here in the eastern part of the country.
I mean, the picture that's emerging from Tripoli is indeed disturbing. It appears that there is -- at this point -- zero tolerance for any dissent. People did try to go out after Friday prayers today and demonstrate. But apparently they came under intense gunfire as soon as they started to gather.
We're hearing stories of bodies being taken out of the morgues, bodies of people killed in the protests and being buried in beaches and in the desert to make it appear that the death toll is, in fact, lower. It appears that the policy of Moammar Gadhafi is similar to that of Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan simply slaughtering his opponents where he can. In fact, today in Green Square, he made an appearance where he said that he will turn Libya into hell if he has to just to maintain his power over this country -- Piers.
MORGAN: I mean, quite extraordinary statements. And also, an even worse one I thought from his son who said that plan A was to live and die in Libya, plan B is to live and die in Libya, plan C is to live and die in Libya. The Gadhafis are going nowhere without an almighty fight, are they?
WEDEMAN: No, they certainly aren't, and it's interesting to see Saif al-Islam, the man who promoted himself to the West as the voice of moderation, of reform of Libya. He's come across, many Libyans say, that the mask has fallen. That he is a carbon copy of his father, somebody who's made some blood-chilling threats to the Libyan people in the last few days.
And people at least in this part of Libya -- they listen to these statements and they're concerned. They thought that they had successfully expelled the Gadhafi forces from the eastern part of the country. But they see this rein in terror in Tripoli.
And this is encouraging some people to think that there's no point in waiting for the international community to take action. It may be time to organize some sort of defense force or rather military force to take offensive action against what remains of the Gadhafi regime, because the people in Tripoli say this cannot go on for much longer -- Piers.
MORGAN: But do you get a sense from the people in Benghazi that they now would expect some kind of foreign military intervention here? Obviously, you talked there that perhaps they would mobilize their own forces in some way. But do you feel as this bloodshed starts to really accelerate that the time may be coming where they say to the international community, "Come and help us"?
WEDEMAN: Well, individual Libyans do tell you that they would actually welcome some sort of intervention by a foreign military force. But in public, people are very hesitant to make that sort of statement. In fact, the municipal council for Benghazi met this evening. And in fact, they put out a statement saying that they do not want foreign interference in Libyan affairs during this difficult time.
But many Libyans feel that given what we've seen so far from Moammar Gadhafi and his willingness, for instance, to use the air force against peaceful protesters, it may come down to just that, that only foreign intervention could prevent more slaughter of people in this country -- Piers.
MORGAN: Ben, thank you for now. We'll come back to you before the end of the show.
Tonight, hundreds of desperate Americans have finally made their escape from the chaos in Libya. The U.S. chartered ferry arrived at the port in Malta after being stuck in Tripoli for three days.
Ivan Watson is on the scene in Malta tonight.
Ivan, pretty dramatic stuff there, and the testimony coming from these people even more dramatic.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And it seems to be part of a broader plan to basically evacuate all of the U.S. diplomats from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. Just ahead of a statement from the White House, Piers, imposing sanctions on what's left of the Gadhafi regime.
What we saw here were several hundred -- more than 300 passengers arriving on a ferry boat that had been waiting for two nights in the Tripoli harbor to try to brave very stormy seas to come here. It is the first of a number of vessels that are expected throughout the night here as the exodus continues by land, sea, and air of tens of thousands of foreigners from Libya. Some of the people we'd spoke with said they've been holed up in their homes in Tripoli for days as the fighting rage outside as they heard one trembling stories of massacres taking place from friends, when the phones were working. Take a listen to what one young woman had to say to us, Piers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel safer. But at the same time, my heart is completely in Libya, right now, and I feel totally foreign. I feel for the people who are still there and who didn't get a chance to get out because it's chaos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Yes, I mean, very, very distressing.
WATSON: -- people leaving their loved ones behind.
MORGAN: Yes, I mean, Ivan, when you talked to them, do you get a sense that the scale of the atrocity that's happening in Libya now is many times worse than perhaps we realize?
WATSON: You know, from these people, these desperate people, many of them said they've been holed up and they hadn't been able to see or witness things firsthand. They'd only heard things.
And I think the evidence is coming out from really those YouTube videos that are being smuggled out people are really risking their lives to get out these pieces of real citizen journalism, where I've seen videos of 15 men laying on a road side in uniforms executed, their hands tied behind their backs. I mean, these are just the first signs.
That and the defections of air force pilots. You know, you've got two air force jets that are still parked here in Malta airport from two pilots who defected rather than open fire on their fellow citizens. Those are the signs of what steps this regime is willing to take and has, perhaps, taken and are indicators that we are probably going to learn much more in the days and weeks ahead -- Piers.
MORGAN: Ivan, thanks very much. We'll come back to you as well before the end of the show.
But, for now, could a post-Gadhafi Libya turn into a safe haven for terrorists?
Joining me now is Richard Barrett, an expert on al Qaeda-related terrorism and the coordinator of the U.N.'s al Qaeda and Taliban monitoring team.
Richard, what do you think about the potential here for a vacuum in Libya that would allow al Qaeda, who don't have a huge presence there at the moment, to perhaps come in and seize some kind of control?
RICHARD BARRETT, U.N. AL QAEDA TALIBAN MONITORING TEAM: Well, I think it's a very important question. But I think in the short-term, it's very unlikely that al Qaeda would be able to take advantage of the situation. Even if it's a vacuum, as you say, and it may well be and it may well be as your correspondent in Benghazi was saying, being a pretty violent vacuum.
I think al Qaeda doesn't have the local support to be able to take any immediate advantage of that. And I think what their policy will be and they'll be, of course, watching this as closely as we all are is to think, OK, let's see how it goes, let's hope there's oppression of some sort, whether it's Colonel Gadhafi coming back into authority or whoever takes over for him exerting a very close authority over the state, and then perhaps we'll be able to recruit more people on the basis of our saying, look, it's only if you're really well-organized and violent that you're going to achieve anything there.
MORGAN: What is the threat, do you think, to the world in terms of terrorism? From all that we're seeing in the Middle East, as you see the domino effect of this revolution and the uprisings spreading across the region -- is the terror threat getting worse? Or in a have strange way, could it be getting better as you see these dictators being toppled?
BARRETT: Well, no, I think you're right. In a strange way, it's getting better. And this is a tremendous blow to al Qaeda, particularly what's been happening in Egypt where the -- you know, you're a popular revolt, if you like, has led so far, anyway, to some very real results. And the results that are being achieved in 20 days that al Qaeda hasn't been able to achieve in 20 years. So, that, I think, is a real blow for the messages that al Qaeda tries to put out, that it's only through violence that you can achieve real change.
And all the things that I think were driving, say, young Egyptians, or young Libyans or young Tunisians towards al Qaeda, these things like a sense of powerlessness or a sense of humiliation, a sense of, you know, lacking purpose and any vision for the future -- you could see in Tahrir Square, all those faces, all those people there, they immediately got pride in their country, a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging and empowerment -- all the things that al Qaeda had been praying on and exploiting.
So, I think, so far, it's been a real blow for al Qaeda.
MORGAN: Richard Barrett, thank you very much, indeed.
President Obama has been walking a fine line ever since the chaos in Libya began. How much can the White House do to get Gadhafi to give up and go?
Joining me now is my colleague John King.
John, as we see these desperate scenes from Libya apparently getting worse by the second, what kind of pressure is now getting on to the White House and President Obama to actually consider some kind of military intervention with the wider international community?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIER NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No talk as yet tonight, Piers, with a military intervention, although they did have an emergency meeting of NATO today to discuss possible -- emphasis on possible -- military options down the road. What the president is doing tonight, though, is taking a much more aggressive tone. As you know, he has been criticized for moving too slowly, for being too timid, for not standing with the people of Libya against this brutal dictator.
Well, tonight -- and timing is critical -- once the Americans on that ferry reached Malta, once a plane carrying Americans reached Istanbul today, the administration shifted almost immediately. The president has released this executive order tonight. This is the sanctions, imposing the sanctions against Moammar Gadhafi, his four children, and any entity of the Libyan government they're trying to crackdown financially.
And the president in a statement explaining those sanctions, Piers, talked about the brutality going on and had a much more aggressive tone. He said, "Going forward, the United States will continue to closely coordinate our actions with the international community, including our friends and allies in the United Nations. We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights and a government that is responsive to their aspirations, their human dignity cannot be denied."
So, that is a tougher tone, a more aggressive tone. It still stops short of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy today who said Gadhafi has to go. But the White House is ratcheting up the pressure.
MORGAN: I mean -- we're going to hear -- we're going to hear a statement here from Jay Carney. Oh, we're not now.
John, let me ask you -- is it sort of a human imperative here for America and the international community to intervene? If you look at what happened in Bosnia, in Serbia, is what Gadhafi is now doing to his people any better, any worse than what Milosevic was doing, for example? We went in there.
KING: It's a great question. And the one part we don't know is the scale. You were having a fascinating conversation just moments ago with Ben and with Ivan. We know the atrocities are taking place. We see snippets of the pictures. We're beginning to hear from the people leaving. I spoke to a young Libyan American today who said he remembers seeing more than 100 people shot in just a few moments.
The scale of it we do not know, but the bloody brutality of it we do know. That is why NATO had the meeting.
I talked to Retired General Wesley Clark who once was the supreme allied commander at NATO tonight. And he said at the moment he doesn't yet see the reason for military intervention. But he said if Gadhafi tries to hang on 24, 48, and 72 hours longer, if we hear continued reports of atrocities, and God forbid, remember, there is mustard gas in Libya. He has other weapons at his disposal that he could use against his people.
If this goes on through the weekend, Piers, I think we will be having that conversation in a much more open and urgent way quite soon.
MORGAN: Yes. I mean, I think there's got to be huge pressure there because, you know, you're seeing a situation where we don't know how many people are getting killed. But the stories of house-to-house slaughtering of the people, this is genocidal behavior. And if we do wait 24, 48, you know, 72 hours, goodness knows how many more thousands of people will get killed.
Gadhafi's made it absolutely clear, they are going nowhere. They will love and die in Libya. And I think there's a lot of pressure now building from the wider public watching this, thinking, we've got to get in there.
KING: I think you're exactly right. And the financial sanctions announced today. Let's be clear, there's no one in the Obama White House or several European governments I was in touch with today who think financial sanctions will work. However, they do think you need to do that, freeze the assets, billions of dollars in foreign Libyan assets, freeze them here in the United States and around the world to send a signal and to keep that money out of the hands -- they're not so much worried about Gadhafi, but his children trying to move that money around the world and do things with it. But that's just a first step and everybody realizes that.
And the conversations about military action, it will be fascinating. There were a lot of critics saying, why hadn't NATO met sooner? Why they didn't meet four or five days ago? Why did it take today?
At the White House, they have defended that, saying they wanted to wait until Americans got so that they were taken hostage, so they do not become pawns in this. But it will be fascinating to watch.
And at the White House, as they say, these confrontations will intensify, they also say they need to look through the Europeans who have closer relationships with the Libyan people to see how far they are willing to go, how far is Italy, Great Britain and France. And I think it's very noteworthy that President Sarkozy at the moment has been the most aggressive in saying Gadhafi must go and the world must nudge him to go.
MORGAN: I think it's noteworthy and I think it's not great for Great Britain that our prime minister there has not said the same thing.
John King, thank you very much.
KING: Thank you.
MORGAN: When we come back, an eyewitness account of the chaos in Libya from an American woman who has just escaped.
MORGAN: A ferry packed with desperate Americans there in Libya finally arrived in Malta tonight.
Onboard is Judith Drotar, a director of the American School of Tripoli. And she joins me now with her dramatic eyewitness account of the chaos in Libya.
Judith, what has your experience been like? We're hearing some appalling stories coming from Libya.
JUDITH DROTAR, DIRECTOR OF AMERICAN SCHOOL OF TRIPOLI: Hi, Piers.
I'm one of the lucky ones. We just heard a lot of things by rumor, but I didn't actually se anything. I think the thing that was very disconcerting for most of us was that everything happened so quickly. All of the events that could've taken place in the last few days were absolutely unexpected.
We have heard a lot of horror stories from some of our Libyan personnel. And things just basically unraveled for us in a very quick amount of time. We were expecting to have the school open on Monday, but events that happened Sunday night precluded all that. And we got all the teachers to the school using it as a safe haven and camped out there for two days and so we could start making plans to evacuate 24 teachers and their four dependents.
MORGAN: Judith, did you get a sense just before you were taken to safety that there is a rising tide of anti-Americanism? Did you begin to fear for your lives in that sense?
DROTAR: Not really. Ever since I've been in Libya, which is four years now, I feel that, mostly, they're very pro-American. They've been so excited to have, you know, the Americans and the Westerners back, you know, after a long period of sanctions. The people were finally starting to have businesses for themselves and, you know, maybe once in a while, we would get one anti-American comment. But I really didn't feel that way.
The last few days, maybe it changed a little bit. If we go out in front of the school and people would drive by and the guards would tell us sometimes it was anti-American. But for the most part, no. I have to say that I -- I've never met such a sweeter group of people.
The Libyan people are for the most part very warm and very excited about, you know, developing their country. And that's why it's so tragic what's happening today. I left behind an awful lot of wonderful people, and I worry for them very much.
MORGAN: Judith, finally, obviously, it's tragic for those who are caught up now in this horrifying retribution from Gadhafi. But there is a bigger picture here. We may be seeing the end of Gadhafi.
Do you believe that is a good thing for Libya in the long run? DROTAR: You know, I don't want to get into politics here. I'm just an educator. I just want the Libyan people to be able to live their lives in a good way.
And, you know, I don't know what would transpire should Gadhafi fall. But I do want the Libyans to have a better life. And this is not a better life. And what he's doing to the Libyan people right now is horrific.
MORGAN: Judith Drotar, thank you very much, indeed, for your time. I appreciate it.
We have more breaking news out of Libya later in the hour. And coming up, the extraordinary meltdown heard around the world involving Charlie Sheen. I'll talk to a leading addiction about what happens to him next.
MORGAN: Here in Hollywood, this is Oscar weekend. But all anybody can talk about is Charlie Sheen and his epic meltdown. And it's not over yet. Today, the troubled star called in to Pat O'Brien's radio show and made a bad situation about 100 times worse.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: You guys are a couple of A.A. Nazis and really just blatant hypocrites in that whole -- that whole regard.
PAT O'BRIEN, RADIO HOST: You're talking about -- you're talking about Chuck Lorre?
SHEEN: Chuck and Lee. Yes, these guys, they do not practice what they preach. It's just so -- it's so transparent and so sad.
I watch them -- I watch them just wailing on people that have been loyal to him for two decades and then it gets into the men's group on Friday and talks about surrender and acceptance is the key. Really, Chuck? Accept these keys.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MORGAN: Yesterday, Charlie Sheen wrote this letter about his show's creator, Chuck Lorre. It's posted on "TMZ." And here's just a part of it. He writes, "I fired back once and this contaminated little maggot can't handle my power and can't handle the truth. I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels, especially if they wind up in my octagon."
Well, addiction expert Dr. Drew Pinsky is here. He has a new show launching April 4th on HLN.
Dr. Drew, what's going on with Charlie Sheen, do you think? What do you see here from a medical perspective? DR. DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION EXPERT: Yes. Well, what we see from a medical perspective presently -- let's just sort of describe and list what we're looking at here. Did you hear in the radio broadcast pressured speech? We have evidence of derailed thought processes. He talks about Thomas Jefferson and jumps from topic to topic.
He's irritable, aggressive, grandiose gesture -- that is classic hypomania. That's how we define mania. So, he's clearly in an acute psychiatrically unstable state. That's just the fact.
I mean, there's simply no denying it. Look at the data there.
The question is: is that really the underlying disorder? Or is this addiction causing hypomania? At this point, it really doesn't matter. Because hypomanics kill themselves, hurt other people, become gravely disabled. And he's just inches off --
MORGAN: Are you worried about Charlie Sheen?
PINSKY: Oh, my goodness. He is inches off needing a 72-hour hold, a 51/50, where people are held against their will because these states that clearly he's in go to a very bad place.
I know -- you know, people have tossed around whether or not we should be approving or disapproving of his behavior. That's not the issue. I hope he lives his life as he pleases. The problem he's gotten himself, his brain into an abnormal state that manifests in behavior is that -- will be, for sure, terribly, terribly dangerous. And then once that's taken care of, then the addiction hopefully going to be --
MORGAN: I want to play you a clip from an interview which is coming up on my show in a few days with Bret Michaels, the Poison lead singer, who is a very good friend of Charlie's. Let's listen to a bit of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET MICHAELS, SINGER, POISON: I think what people are masking -- and I'm saying this -- and this is probably the toughest thing for me to say. I think that it's -- you got to -- someone has got to stop just blaming the drugs.
We have this in our band. It's happened to me. It's happened to CC, to Bobby. Sometimes you've got to look beyond the drugs. The drugs just mask what's going on. And I think the help has to be way beyond -- going to a couple weeks of rehab ain't going to fix it.
MORGAN: What's the answer? What's the simple quick fix for Charlie, do you think?
MICHAELS: I don't think there is one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: What do you make of what Bret was saying? PINSKY: Bret is right and Bret is wrong. There is no quick fix, though he can be stabilized psychiatrically. He does need to be detoxed and stabilized and whatnot. The idea of there being underlying problems -- every addict wants to believe there's a reason they're using.
But they're really -- the way you have to think of it is there are two separate conditions. There's the addiction, which gets triggered, which is the biological sword of the brain, and there are the underlying environmental and psychological issues that push somebody over into addiction in the first place.
And yes, he's right. They both have to be dealt with. But first, you can't do anything until you've dealt with the addiction. That's axiomatic. And that takes many months just by itself.
The issue of dealing with the so-called demons, which in my world -- I always tell people, if you have bad enough addiction you need to see me, 100 percent probability you've had childhood trauma. So we're really talking about childhood trauma. And that takes years to sort through.
MORGAN: Would you treat Charlie if he came to you?
PINSKY: If I had the time. I probably will not have the time because I have a new show coming on HLN. But I certainly could organize a quality team that would be able to treat him.
But it's the conundrum of addiction. You have to want to get better. Now the problem with him now is he's getting so impaired psychiatrically that eventually, provided he doesn't get really medically ill or harm himself or somebody else, and the legal system step in, eventually the psychiatric system's going to step in.
MORGAN: Do you think friends and family ought to have been tougher with Charlie, in terms of his behavioral lifestyle?
PINSKY: Yes. People keep asking that question. And the Sheens know this very well. You can't. You can practice the All Nine (ph) programs. You can do codependency work. But if somebody is really adamant about not getting help, there's only so far you can go.
The other group that has been criticized about intervening on his behalf is CBS. I think they navigated this very well. The fact is, hundreds maybe thousands of jobs are affected by Charlie Sheen's behavior.
MORGAN: The argument, of course, is that he never had any problem on set.
PINSKY: Right, which for men, the workplace is the very last place affected by their work. And because he had no problems at work, CBS probably couldn't fire him. He's not an employee. He's an independent contractor, right?
The only way they could get rid of him is shut the job down. And that affects hundreds of other people. And they're responsible to more than just Charlie Sheen. Yes, I'm sure we're all concerned about Charlie Sheen and his well being. He's a great guy.
Listen, addicts are great people. They're wonderful people. It's not that he's a bad guy. He's doing things -- God bless him -- that suggest he's going to a place that's going to be very dangerous.
MORGAN: Dr. Drew, thank you very much. And good luck with your launch, HLN April 4th. I'll be watching.
Later in the hour, we'll go back to Libya live. And coming up, my interview with Hollywood's ultimate outsider, indy king Kevin Smith.
MORGAN: Kevin Smith is the king of indy film makers, the ultimate Hollywood outsider. Writer and director of films from "Dogma" to "Jersey Girl" to the new "Red State." He joins me now.
Kevin, you're now at the epicenter of Hollywood.
KEVIN SMITH, DIRECTOR: By virtue of -- is that a fat joke? You're saying I have the planetary gravitational pull.
MORGAN: It's not a fat joke.
SMITH: I thought we were starting there.
MORGAN: We did not -- what is your honest view of the Oscars?
SMITH: It's fine. It's a horse race. It seems more like a popularity contest than anything else. But every once in a while, the right person seems to get the award. I was so happy when Martin Scorsese won, finally, you know, when he got his award, and when "The Departed" won as well. I actually agreed with that year completely, 100 percent.
This year, I am looking for -- I hope "The King's Speech" wins. I loved that movie to death. I've worked with Harvey for years and years. So it's not just like oh, it's a home team. That's beautiful.
MORGAN: I love Harvey. Harvey to me is what a movie mogul should be like.
SMITH: Harvey was our model. Me and John Gordon, the guy that made this movie "Red State" with me, we call our company the Harvey Boys in honor of Mr. Weinstein. He trained us from the ground up. Whether he intentionally did or not, sometimes he's actually teaching you and sometimes you just watch.
But he was always an amazing force of nature to be around. And you felt fortunate, blessed because you're like, they're going to write books about this guy. He was one of the last or is the last mogul. MORGAN: Well, six weeks ago, "Social Network" was storming to Oscar glory in almost every category. And I was talking to Harvey at the time, and he says this isn't over yet. I'm not giving up without a fight. And here we are running into the Oscars, where it looks like "The King's Speech" will sweep everything.
SMITH: And rightfully so. A touching flick that appeals to anybody, not just somebody who has had a speech impediment, although that's kind of the cipher they tell the story through. It appeals to anybody who has ever had anything that they feel like, oh, God, this is my Achilles heel, the thing I can't get over.
It's well acted across the boards. It's just touching. And it makes -- I mean, you real a tear watching that movie. I don't care who you are. I've seen 12-year-old boys roll a tear. I've rolled a tear. I'm 40. It's a touching flick.
MORGAN: I had Matt Damon in here recently.
SMITH: What an awesome dude he is.
MORGAN: The show hasn't aired yet, but it was a fantastic interview. And what I was struck by was just how -- A, how bright he is. But secondly, just how resolutely normal he is.
MORGAN: Completely unfazed by the whole kind of Hollywood scene.
SMITH: I don't -- I, of course, spent way more time with him back in the early days. One gets married and has a family and that's it. He also became like a superstar. But any time you see him, he's always like, hey, man, how are you? And it's right back to where you were the last time you ever saw him.
Of anybody I have ever met or kind of -- I came up with those dudes.
MORGAN: Ben Affleck, do you still speak to him?
SMITH: Yeah, from time to time. I went to his premiere of "The Town" at the Director's Guild and talked to him very, very briefly before that screening. But it was cool. It's cool to kind of kick back and watch him direct now, as well.
And it's nice that he's kind of -- people have been giving him a break now. I guess he had to, quote unquote, redeem himself. That was always really frustrating to watch, because Ben's a really wonderful actor. And he got kind of tripped up by a relationship. People got very tired of this. Because of that started going after his work.
And yeah, he made some bad flicks, including some people say one of mine --
MORGAN: I mean, is a professional failure worse than anything that happens to you personally?
SMITH: I don't think -- that's the thing. On the inside, it never feels like failure, especially to me. Like you fail -- this sounds like one of those dopey things you put on a poster, but failure's just success training. If you don't get it right the first time, you come back resolute the next time.
"Mall Rats," we supposedly failed, gave birth to "Chasing Amy." I'm saying, "Cop Out," we supposedly failed, gave birth to "Red State." And you can -- I, as the guy who has been involved in each one, can draw a direct line in how all these movies are connected and how each one, regardless of what critics may have thought about them -- how important they are to the next, or to the entire body of work.
But most people kind of deal in the moment.
MORGAN: Name your favorite movie of all time.
SMITH: I got five: "Jaws," "JFK," "Man For All Seasons," "Do The Right Thing," and "The Last Temptation of Christ."
MORGAN: Does it ever change?
SMITH: No, that hasn't changed. Those five movies played an integral role in motivating me to getting me to the point where I'm sitting down here talking to you today.
MORGAN: Why don't you go for a big commercial film? You've got the talent to do it.
SMITH: It's just, number one, I don't know if I have the talent to do it. Number two, more importantly, there's so many more talented people doing that. I didn't get into this business to kind of do huge movies. I wanted to make "Clerks." I just wanted to make movies about people like me and my friends.
My sensibility is just too weird for the mainstream. And I don't really -- I honestly don't even feel I should be a director. So for me the notion of like film making or me as a director has always been an uneasy fit. But I just wanted to protect the scripts that I wrote. I'm a screen writer, first and foremost, who just happened to kind of direct his own stuff.
MORGAN: Going to have another quick break. When I come back, I want to get into your new movie "Red State," which in classic Kevin Smith style is stirring up all sorts of trouble.
SMITH: Totally. Let's talk about it.
MORGAN: Back now with my guest Kevin Smith. Kevin, as is your want, you have produced another provocative movie "Red State," which is stirring up all sorts of trouble. I want to play you a quick clip. SMITH: OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abigail Tivoed a segment on the 5:00 news. You'll have to watch it later if you want to. See yourselves on the TV.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. Here's what we're going to do next week. We're going to paint the garage. I know how you love that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big strong -- how about you? How about you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, look, the one rule of thumb with movies is get into religion or race or any of those kind of hot issues and you're going to stir up all sorts of provocative responses. You I know have been reacting kind of like, why is this one so controversial? But why are you surprised?
SMITH: I'm not surprised. But at the same time, I also don't think it's very controversial. I don't think this movie has really traveled beyond the film community yet into the real world. And there can't be controversy in the film world whatsoever. That's like everyone in the same kitchen arguing about a recipe, so to speak.
The title "Red State" has had some conservatives going, what's this about? Is he taking shots? But, very simply, it's a horror movie. Red equals blood. "Blood State" would have been a stupid title. So "Red State."
I also thought it was kind of a favor to both parties. You take that title off the table for other people and, you know, maybe there's a more peace between red and blue states. That's a side thing.
But for me, literally, it was just like "Red State."
MORGAN: What is the message in the film?
SMITH: There is no message in the film. It's a horror movie. That's like saying what's the message of "Men in Black." It's entertainment. Like this one isn't really like I've got something to say, not like "Dogma." "Dogma" was clearly me going I got something to say. But this to me was like --
MORGAN: I'm not sure I believe it, because Kevin Smith always has something to say. You're too smart a director --
SMITH: That's why I'm trying to get out of film. I'm done saying things in films. This to me -- honestly, I know I'm at the end of my rope here, the end of my career. I'm going to retire after the next flick. And I've made so many comedies and I love comedy. It's my bread and butter. But I didn't get into films to make comedy. I got into films to make films.
I felt like if I'm getting out, I want to make a flick that kind of -- I want to cram as many genres that I'll never do into a film as possible. So I went for this flick that I feel is me trying my best to do Quentin Tarantino by way of the Coen Brothers.
It was a nice chance for me to kind of step outside my comfort zone doing comedy, and be like, let me make a movie, my chief goal being if people see it, they'll be like there's no way you made this movie; you had nothing to do with this movie, right?
And that's what I got. As soon as I made it, people were like, I don't know how to say this, but -- I'd be like it doesn't look like something I've ever done. They'll go yeah. I'm like thank you.
MORGAN: What is the simple plot line?
SMITH: The simple plot line is three boys find this website like a Craigslist, three high school boys. And they find a woman who says you can have sex if you all come out to my trailer in the woods. And since they're high school boys, they say OK.
They go out to nowhere, a trailer in the woods. Melissa Leo answers the door. She gives them some beers. They're roofied beers. They go out. They wake up in the subterranean, extremely fundamentalist chapel, as you saw in that sequence there with the great Michael Parks as Aden Cooper. They're trapped. They're held prisoner.
And it looks like it's a horror movie. And it plays like a horror movie. There's unsettling murders. Then it switches gears and becomes a completely different movie. And then it does that for 20 minutes. So by the end of the movie, there's a 30-minute gun fight sequence. It looks like nothing I've ever done.
The beautiful thing about it is we've been able to keep the contents quiet, because right after Sundance, all anyone talked about was like, they're taking it out themselves. Like -- or the movie is this. There was stuff they didn't want to talk about without talking about the content of the movie. And that's awesome for a film maker who wants his audience to be kind of surprised and stuff.
So that's been -- we've been fortunate. And I decided to take this one out myself, rather than kind of distribute it normally through a studio system or through a distributor like Harvey Miramax Weinstein Company. I figured I've learned enough over the years that maybe I could handle this distribution myself.
The movie is small. It's only four million bucks. So that's always been my Achilles heel. Like this one I made for four million. We're looking at, if we sell it, they're going to spend 20 million to market it, to get the word out that it's coming. That's already five times the amount of the budget of the movie. That's always felt weird to me.
Then, that's not even the case. Suddenly, when you realize the marketing cost attach 20 million plus four million, you think, OK, if I can just make 24 million, then we're break even point. The studio doesn't get that 24 million. They report it, but they only get half. They split that with exhibitors.
So now I have to make 48 million to make my little four million dollar horror movie just break even. I'm like I can't do this anymore.
MORGAN: It's crazy economics.
SMITH: Absolutely. The economics work for a studio. If you're Disney and you make a movie that costs 150 million, you better damn skippy spend 100 million marketing it worldwide, because you've got to build a brand. You go to launch a franchise, video games, maybe a kids cartoon, all the toys, sequels and stuff.
I don't make sequels or remakes. I don't make a franchisable movie. Particularly "Red State" is movie that took three years to find the financing for. It's bleak. It's uncompromising. It demands a lot of the audience. And at that point, I'm like, I can't afford to put 20 million dollars on top of it to try to trick people into coming to see a movie that's not for them.
MORGAN: If hypothetically you won an Oscar for this film --
SMITH: That would never happen.
MORGAN: "King's Speech" cost 12 million and went on to potentially hopefully --
SMITH: "The King's Speech" is a warm, touching film. This is a alienating --
MORGAN: You never know. Let's play it hypothetical. You, Kevin Smith, are called up to receive the Oscar next year --
SMITH: In this hypothetical here, how big is my dick? In a world where we're making fantasies, please give me a --
MORGAN: Like all things in Hollywood, it's negotiable. What I want to know is who is the one person you would thank most? Forget the long list?
SMITH: Jen, my wife, hands down. Because she sleeps with me on a regular basis and to forget her would be to give up sex forever. So it's a pragmatic answer. Also, she's my partner. Without her, I don't do anything.
MORGAN: Kevin, it's been a joy. Thank you very much.
SMITH: Thanks, man.
MORGAN: The situation in Libya is worsening by the minute. Next, we'll go there live for the latest news.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORGAN: Now more on Libya. I want to show you a piece of dramatic video that's just come into us from Facebook. It appears to be recorded in Tripoli and shows people on the streets. Suddenly there's the sound of gunfire, shouts and the camera falls to the ground. Take a look.
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(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: We can't be sure what happened to that cameraman. I want to bring in CNN's Ben Wedeman now, live in Benghazi. Ben, I don't know if you saw that, but what it shows is clearly an illustration of what is happening all over Libya right now, just people being shot in the street.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONALIST CORRESPONDENT: That's what's going on, Piers. It appears that the level of violence in Tripoli is increasing, as Moammar Gadhafi feels he's pushed further and further into a corner.
He's lost control of the east of the country. Diplomats have defected. Military officers have defected. Planes that he thought he controlled have flown out of the country. Not surprising that the level of violence in Tripoli is dramatically increasing.
MORGAN: Ben, it's obviously a very unpredictable situation. I wouldn't ask you to make any predictions. But given your knowledge of the region, given your knowledge of Gadhafi as a human being, what do you think is going on in his mind right now?
WEDEMAN: Well, that's -- that's a hard question to answer, because most Libyans have no idea what's going on in his mind. They think he's taking the hallucinogenic drugs that he accuses his opponents of imbibing. Clearly he realizes the end is near. We saw Saif al-Islam, his son, saying that he has plan A, B and C, all of them which are to live and die in Libya.
There's really not much for him to do at this point. We've heard some of his former ministers saying that they expect him at some point to commit suicide when it becomes apparent that he'll no longer be able to stay in power.
But this is a man really looking at the final days of his regime. Eventually, the forces which are growing against him, both domestically and international, will overcome him. But the worry is that final chapter is going to be a bloody one. Piers?
MORGAN: Ben, how long do you think Gadhafi can hang on like this realistically?
WEDEMAN: Not much longer. Now in addition to all of those factors I mentioned before, you have the United States imposing sanctions on Libya. You have the European powers under increasing pressure to follow suit. There's talk of possibly composing a no-fly zone in Libya.
It's just not looking good for Moammar Gadhafi, which isn't a bad thing for the rest of the country.
MORGAN: No, it's not. Ben Wedeman, thank you very much indeed. And that's all from us tonight. There's my colleague Anderson Cooper with "AC 360."