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Piers Morgan Live

Interview with Parents of Aurora Shooting Victim; Interview with Matthew McConaughey; Another Giraffe Marked for Death in a Danish Zoo

Aired February 13, 2014 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: It's Piers Morgan Live. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Tonight, the Colorado State Senator who says I'm quoting directly here, "It might have been a good thing that the Aurora massacre shooter had 100-round magazine." I'll talk exclusively to the parents of one of the Aurora victims. And is this again a tragedy in the making?

For the second time, a giraffe might be marked on death in the Danish zoo just as days after Copenhagen zoo spark outrage around the word by killing this giraffe. They say to avoid inbreeding. I'll ask Jack Hanna what he thinks.

Plus a 100 million people on the siege of a massive winter storm tonight. And if you think snow is no big deal, well, take a look at this. An avalanche froze the Colorado's snowmobiler. The whole thing caught on his helmet cam. Cody Strong of his incredibly survival story, exclusively.

And Oscar nominee Matthew McConaughey, star of Dallas Buyers Club tells me how much his father influenced him and what he would think about his son's turn in the Oscar spotlight.


MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB: Oh, he'd love it. He's be hamming it up right now. He's be hamming it up. He would love it. Absolutely.


MORGAN: I will begin then with our big story. The missive winter storm battering the Northeast in these 700,000 people without power tonight, 6500 flights in the north of U.S. are canceled.

Chad Myers, when will this brutal weather end, Chad? It's seems to be incisive this week and very ferocious.

CHAD MYERS, METEOROLOGIST: It will probably end sometime around 8:00 AM tomorrow morning for New York City and noon for Albany, Rockland, and on up towards the Green and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. But a lot is still going to happen before now and then. There will be more inches of snow. There'll be blizzard conditions for New York City and some computer models now especially west of New York City up the Hudson Valley are putting out 10 more inches of snow. That's not the forecast for New York City. The forecast is four to eight additional inches of snow. But really, enough is enough, Piers.

MORGAN: I saw that Al Roker, one of your weatherman colleagues over at NBC going to a bit of a spot on Twitter today with Mayor de Blasio, one of my colleagues at NBC going a bit of a spat on Twitter today with Mayor De Blasio, the new mayor in New York. What did you make of that? Did he have a point?

MYERS: Absolutely. We talked about this last night, Piers. It was going to snow hard. It's going to snow hard then all of the sudden, the whole day it's going to rain and it's going to snow again. We're back, to them and it snowed hard. We knew yesterday. We said on the show, said on Twitter that the snow was going to come down hard two to three inches an hour and that's what happened. Who's not listening? I don't get it.

MORGAN: I want to play you clip. This is what the mayor actually said about our Al Roker. It's quite interesting his excuse.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK: I respect Al Roker a lot. I watched him on TV for many, many years. It's a different thing to run a city than to give the weather on TV.


MORGAN: A bit of dig there, the TV weatherman I guess, in general, he said he gets all his stuff from the National Weather Center. Is he right as an elected official to stick rigidly to those parameters or not?

MYERS: You know, I know what all the buttons of an airplane do. I know what all the knobs are for. I know what all the gages do. But when I walk into my delta flight, I don't ask to fly the plane. So, I know my place. Here's what I do. Here's what I know. I'm going to give you the most accurate that I believe truth and then you make your own decisions. And the mayor made the decision. You know, even when I was going to school in Buffalo, Piers, if we canceled school every time it snowed, I'd be going to school through the 4th of July. So we can't cancel it all the time. I think, you know, they want to get the schools in, you got to get so many days in, and you guess, send them home.

MORGAN: Al Roker responded to the mayor twitting, "Mr. Mayor, I could never run NYC, but I know when it's time to keep kids home from school." So that battle we'll continue to rate (ph). I'm seeing Al Roker quite as worked up about a politician everyone thinks. So Al, if you're watching, come on tomorrow night, let's talk about all this. You're getting very heated. So we can expect really a cooling down of this chaos in New York tomorrow Chad. And for the wider country, by the weekend, is everything beginning to get back to some kind of normality?

MYERS: Slightly. There's a small storm. And this is a two to four-inch snow storm that comes through Pennsylvania and hits New York City on Saturday morning. And it just kind of makes it pretty. And Saturday is a great day for snow. You don't have to worry about whether the kids go to school or not. But really -- I think everybody at one time, we should ring a bell and everybody in New York City, in Philadelphia, in D.C. just yell uncle. Maybe the wind shall stop. It just doesn't seem to have any end in sight (ph).

MORGAN: Well, Chad as always, you've done a terrific job for this whole week. I appreciate your updating us. And obviously, any developments, we'll let people know as when that happen.

I want to turn now to the Colorado state senator who says, let me quote this again, it was "maybe a good thing" -- maybe a good thing that accused Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes had a 100-round magazine. Senator Bernie Herpin went on to suggest that if the shooter had multiple smaller magazines, he might have killed even more people.

What are now my next guests think of this because joining me now exclusively are Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, the mother and stepfather of Aurora victim Jessica Ghawl. Welcome to both of you.

Sandy, when you heard this, from a state senator...


MORGAN: ... what was your reaction?

S. PHILLIPS: I was actually listening to it here in San Antonio through the live feed that they provide and when he said that I was like -- I must have heard that wrong and realized I hadn't heard it wrong and this is the sense of this particular senator takes over and over and over again. It was not -- he did not misspeak. It was delivered and (inaudible)....

MORGAN: Well, let me -- this is (inaudible) actually because I want to put in respect about paying exactly what he said. So there could be no doubt here about the way he said it or what he said. Let's watch this.


SEN. BERNIE HERPIN, (R) COLORADO: Perhaps James Holmes would not have been able to purchase a 100-round magazine. As it turned out, that was maybe a good thing that he had a 100-round magazine, because it jammed. If he had instead had four, five, six, 15-round magazines, there's no telling how much damage he could have done until a good guy with a gun showed up.


MORGAN: I mean, Lonnie, would you hear it like that that the kind of logic of this man who's an elected official in America in Colorado where this happened, he genuinely thinks it was probably a good thing that this guy had a 100-round magazine because of course, he only hit 70 people with it, didn't he? Then he killed 12 and wounded 58. Lonnie, one of them was Jessica, your girl. What do you feel about this?

LONNIE PHILLIPS, STEPFATHER OF AURORA VICTIM JESSICA GHAWL: Well, it makes my heart pound for -- to hear that. I know what he was talking about and he was referring to the 100-round magazine as notoriously a weapon attachment that jammed and that's what he was referring to. It was a good thing he had that 100-round magazine because it jammed. If he did have five or six, 15 clip -- a round clips, he could have switch that and kept killing people but that is really stupid logic.

It takes at least even for a professional to change clips. You have at least a three or four or five second time period so somebody could take him down. But that 100-round magazine, he intended to use the whole thing and probably would have end up killing may be another 50, 60 people had it not jammed. What he was referring to was that magazine typically has a history of jamming. So, he is saying is probably a good thing...

MORGAN: Well, I mean, you know, he can say this...

L. PHILLIPS: ... he had that.

MORGAN: Right. He can say this Sandy, but the reality is managed to fire off 70 bullets to struck people and...


MORGAN: ... it's a completely twisted logic. I was going to talk to you Sandy generally about where we are with guns because we've had so many incidents recently. There was now the movie shooting. The retired policeman who shot somebody who was texting in front of him while they watched the movie, there have been 44 -- the Wall Street Journal that (inaudible) he was. That 44 shootings in schools or colleges in America since Sandy Hook., a quite staggering statistic. And you know, I'm going to go on about this again because it's important to show other countries which have broaden (ph) strict gun control what happens?

In the UK, it was announced today, the 2012 to 2013 March to March of that calendar year, 29 gun murders in the whole year, the lowest since 1980 for 34 years. In Australia, they were -- today there were a big report which reemphasize they haven't had a massacre, a mass shooting in Australia since 1996 since the Port Arthur massacre which led to them bringing in tough gun control. When this gun protagonist -- I don't mean law abiding ordinary American citizens who have a gun for self defense at home. I'm talking about the more extreme gun protagonist.

When they say the only answer, Sandy, to any of these outrages is more guns. What do you think can be done to try and change that mentality? S. PHILLIPS: Well, of course, you know that since we went to work to the Brady campaign, we're staunch advocates for the background check and expanding background check so that every gun sold has a background check done on it. And in time, of course, that would weed out the bad guys with the gun being able to get them so easily. But that's logical and of course these people don't deal with the same kind of logic that you and I deal with. They love their guns more than they love human life. I mean, that's the bottom line. They love their guns more than they love human life.

MORGAN: I mean, Lonnie, that is the sad reality. It would seem in many cases here that the argument is so visceral now on both sides that both sides are so implacable and I'm with you but I try and respect the other view. But I find it very difficult when you hear people at the state senator being so glib about a 100-round magazines which to me have no place in civilian hands. Absolutely no place at all.

S. PHILLIPS: Of course they don't.

MORGAN: So tell me Lonnie -- Lonnie, how do we try and move forward. How do we try and get some movement to make America to get the word "control," to just make it safe to have more gun safety.

L. PHILLIPS: Piers, there's already 300,000 guns out there.

S. PHILLIPS: 300 million.

L. PHILLIPS: I'm sorry.

MORGAN: 300 million.

L. PHILLIPS: 300 -- yes. So, the horse is out of the bar. The only thing we can do at this point is the thing that Brady is trying to do is get background checks. When we get background checks 20 years ago, we didn't have the internet. There is 70,000 guns for sale on the internet today. And you can go buy them on the internet without any kind of background check.

What do you think a criminal is going to go for his gun? Also, gun shows, they have proliferated since that time and now they are -- that's to go to place to get your gun if you are a criminal. If you need a gun, you can go -- there are license dealers there and right across the table, the next table, there is an unlicensed dealer that you can buy the gun. You're going to pay more for it because they don't require a background check or you can go out in the parking lot and buy that gun.

We have to get background check. That's all. For that step, we can get 90 percent of the American people want them. 74 percent of the NRA wants them...

S. PHILLIPS: And will stop over two million people already through the Brady bill already. Over two million people that should not have been able to buy guns have been stopped.

L. PHILLIPS: I talked to...

MORGAN: Well listen, you guys, listen. Sandy and Lonnie, I can't talk about as lot longer with you both. I'm a huge admirer of the work that you do, you know that. And we'll continue to try and have this debate in a rational way. I just can't get past that figure -- 44 shootings in schools and colleges in America in 14 months. If that doesn't trigger some change, what the hell will.

Anyway, Sandy and Lonnie, thank you very much for joining me. I appreciate it.

And just a few minutes, I'll talk exclusively to the snowmobiler who survived this avalanche. The whole thing caught on helmet cam. And when we come back, worldwide outrage over the killing of a giraffe in the Danish zoo. Could it be happening all over again? I'll ask Jungle Jack Hanna.


MORGAN: Animals lovers around the world outrage of a giraffe at the Danish zoo that remarked the death tonight just as days after Copenhagen zoo in Denmark killed another giraffe. Say going to be doing it to avoid inbreeding.

And what Jungle Jack Hanna with me now and he is of course Director Emeritus of Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He is also the host of the "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild" and "Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown." So, one of the video we're going to show you is both graphic and disturbing.

Let's talk about Jack. I've been watching you getting very angry and emanated about this whole week. We now here is a plan for another zoo in Denmark to also perform a giraffe cull is another way of putting it and we're showing what they did last time to this giraffe feeding it to the lion ands so on. What is your specific criticism of what they are doing in Denmark?

JACK HANNA, DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM: Well, criticism, I couldn't even go beyond criticism. The Columbus Zoo, The Wilds, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the wild zoo in the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, we don't condone this horrid act that took place over there, number one. Number two, there's absolutely no reason for it. Some reasons have been issued. No, Piers, we can't find room for it. It has been accredited in institution.

The 220 years or so of us over here and there's quite a few more in Europe. Now, I know that some kind of European Zoo Association has supported it. As that said, I can tell you now that the Columbus Zoo and what we have in the wilds will never work with anyone whatsoever that ever does anything like this to a living creature that God put on this earth for us to learn about. This isn't -- in the wild, certain cultures do that. For example, when I go and film out in the wild, there's certain people who've done this for years. But this -- most of our animals, Piers, 95 percent of them were born in other zoos. The American Zoo -- the zoo and aquarium association that we have here, we work with all of us work together, Piers. We control our breeding. We control what we do with our animals. We have breeding loads with each other. We know that the value of this animal is up most important thing we do when we have -- we have the respect to this animal and to make sure it's entire life has lived out the best it can in a situation that this habitats cost tens and millions of dollars today unlike on the old days. So, there's absolutely no excuse what happened to Copenhagen and I don't know why this guy is trending (ph) alone.

We've already got -- and by the way, the Columbus Zoo, my self and the zoo, and so other people have already put the money in enough. If we have to take this giraffe six months from now, I will personally allow with our zoo pay for the transportation and bring it to our country and providing a home that giraffe will never believe. We have 10,000 acres that we have with many, many giraffes to both our zoos and there's, so.

MORGAN: Jack, I interviewed a big game trophy hunter guy recently. His name is Corey Knowlton and he's paid a lot of money hundreds of thousands of dollars to go and kill a black rhino. His argument was pretty similar to what these Danish zookeeper arguments are which is, look, they need to get rid of this aging black rhino, anyway, they need to kill it for the sake of the herd and so on. Is it the same kind of argument and does it have the same lack of any validities as far as you're concerned. Is that the only way to try and control groups of animals in the wild or in the zoo?

HANNA: No. In the wild -- so the best conservation is our good hunters by the way. However, the same with the rhino, which I have heard about, that's now a bad timing not when the rhino is on the verge of extinction of many, many -- the poaching of the rhino as you all know is beyond out of sight right now. It's beyond uncontrollable. It's -- the rhino horn now is fetching over $200,000 versus when I first -- with they're 4,000. So that is something -- that is not -- that's apples and oranges.

What they're talking about hunting is one thing and that you can say we want to -- that your friend there because some hunters have provided millions, tens of millions of dollars in Africa for conversation. That's not the case in some countries today.

A lot of the African countries are as corrupt as anything it can be. That money that these -- some of these hunters are paying doesn't go one dime to the conservation of any animal over there. And so the hunters, they're in the right countries where animals had to be culled then that's up to the hunter in the country if it's a legal thing.

This thing with the giraffe has nothing to do with that whatsoever. There's room with these animals if they are perfectly healthy.

MORGAN: OK. Now, I think the -- yet the only thing that I was making a job was that it seem to me a kind of similar argument which is the reason we have to do this is because the black rhino, you know, is redundant to the here. The reason you're going to kill this giraffe is you can't have two male giraffes or one female giraffe. It's an argument about how you control I guess a group of animals from the same animal type. Is there any validity at all from your point of view to any of the argument that they must be using?

You know, I think it was also everyone agree it was terrible they cut this giraffe up and feed it to the lion in front children I think it just outrageous. But is that any argument that has any wanted to you at all about the way you control a group of perhaps predominantly male and female giraffe in that situation?

HANNA: Yes. You can control breeding in zoological parks and those were what they're doing. That's a no-brainier. Do giraffe males fight? Yes, they do. I've seen them fight almost, I mean, it's incredible to watch the males in the wild fight when they do that. However, we're talking about animals that are born in the zoological situation and the keepers and the staffs on our zoological parks are very well-trained to work with that animal, knowing that animal is upset, knowing that female is in cycle. Knowing those males might fight.

I've seen mixed groups of giraffes all over the places and zoos throughout this country where we have very few problems like that happen. So what's their using is a weak excuse. If there are a good zoological park, they should monitor they're animals, they shouldn't have breed 20 or so giraffes, and they say they won't room for another one a male or female whatever they want to breed to come in there.

And they say they can't find a home for the giraffe because it's not an accredited institution. That's bunch garbage. There's plenty of accredited people that were taking that other giraffe that lost its life last week. And there's many, many more that will take this method (ph) coming on. So their argument is very, very weak. Don't even imply, don't even go one step at me anywhere that kind of argument...


HANNA: ... because I've this for 40 years.

MORGAN: Let's just take a short break. OK. Stay with me Jack. When we come back, we'll talk about things, you know, like things at the National Zoo's panda cam. When we come back, we'll talk about whether zoos good or bad for animals generally. When a critic who says zoos are dangerous, another is it's time for us to change the way we think about animals.


MORGAN: With more life being shed in the treatment of animal zoos and theme parks, many people are asking, are zoos good or bad for animals? Well, back with me now is Jack Hanna, also joining is Kerry Lauerman, he is the Editor-in-Chief of and Professor Dale Jamieson, Director of the Animal Studies Initiative and Professor of Environmental Studies at NYU. And just before we get on the two of you, I guess, Jack, a lot of tweets is coming in here. A lot of animal lovers fear something happening to giraffes. But this guy caught my attention Tom Bazin (ph) says, "Get off the giraffe story. Yosemite National Park is -- Yosemite I'm sorry -- National Park is killing up to 800 bison nothing on that. What's the difference? What's the difference between culling (ph) bison at Yosemite National Park and culling giraffes? Jack, what's the simple answer to that?

HANNA: You want me to answer that question Piers? I'm sorry.

MORGAN: Yeah. Yes Jack, you.

HANNA: Yeah. There's a great difference of that. Bison aren't necessarily -- they are wild animals, yes they are. We even have bison at the place called the wilds we have. However -- and that's fine. Culling bison at Yellowstone National Park -- because I'll have -- been have a cabin there for 10 or 12 years. There's many reasons for that. Yellowstone in ecosystem is a center of ranch land all over the place and the culling of bison there has to be done because a bison can get into park -- in and out of that park so easy and get into ranchers lands and things like that to disturb those animals. So that's -- the culling is up to the National Park Services rails and ranchers if they're interfering.

Plus, and I'm maybe wrong the doctor there can tell me that certain diseases. I don't know if just the elk or the bison carry can affect a lot of cattle. So there are certain reasons, but again, I think it's apples and ...


HANNA: ... oranges, you know. That's what's I thought.

MORGAN: OK. Let me bring in Dr. Jamieson. You are a professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy. It's obviously -- it's a very emotional debate as to whether I was being the hunter a month ago or you're seeing this giraffe story, different countries have different rules and we saw the story in Japan as well last week. Lots of different cultures, treat different animals in different ways. Why should the Danish frankly be able to treat giraffe's the way they wish too if they believe it's the right way to treat them?

PROF. DALE JAMIESON, DIRECTOR, ANIMAL STUDIES INITIATIVE, NYU: Well, I think you're raising a good point. I mean, I think we are here to do object to the way that the Danes have treated Marius. But Americans zoos have their own problems with the surplus animals. There are -- even though our breeding is much better controlled than they are in Europe, there's still is a leakage of animals from zoos into places where we don't want them to go.

And there's no American zoos as far as I know that's willing to actually take lifetime responsibility for any animal that it breeds, from cradle to grave. So there's a lot of issues here. Their cross- cultural lines and I think one thing we'd need to do is to get away from thinking, "Oh, these are the Danes who are behaving badly in this way except (ph) the Japanese. The issue that you raised with Yosemite National Park, I think, just again, brings out the contradictions and inconsistencies that we have in our treatment of animals.

MORGAN: Right. Kerry Lauerman, and this is a complex issue. It's not as easy as people in the Twitter verse and social media would like it to be, you know. This bad guy Danes treating animals badly. The reality is, there is ill-treatment of animals and culling of animals and eating of certain sacred animals in different countries all over the world, isn't it? How do we try and bring some uniformity or consistency when you have different cultures at play.

KERRY LAUERMAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THEDODO.COM: Right. Well, I do think we're living at a fantastic moment where these questions are so might bubbling to the surface and are being raised more aggressively than they would've been even a year ago whether it's the dolphin hunt in Taiji which was a huge story just a week ago. Whether it's these issues around all animals in captivity including SeaWorld with the success of Blackfish, that documentary.

I think these questions are being raised globally, you know, this particular story makes it seem a little bit like the rest of the world is looking at the Danish zoo as though it's a cultural divide. In fact there are plenty of protesters over there as well in Copenhagen concerned and distressed to what's going on.

So, I think the conversation -- the fact that the conversation is happening as loudly and as powerfully it is the sign that things are about to really change.

MORGAN: And Jack Hanna, I went to a few weeks ago, the Santa Barbara Zoo here in California with my daughter. We had a lovely day and, you know, it struck me that certain animals seemed a lot happier there than others, the giraffes for example seemed very happy to my untrained experts. But some of the other animals there they seemed to me to be struggling a bit with captivity if you like or being kept in a zoo environment.

From your expertise, is that I am right, are certain animals able to deal with being in zoos better than others and should there be restrictions dependent on that?

HANNA: I would say, in the older days obviously we had our problems. Today, 95 percent of our animals come from other zoos, they adapt very well to our geological settings. We're doing the best we can to spend tens of millions of dollars on habitats for these animals. And some of your guest here may say like I have been in the wild I've seen every country in the world, every continent in the world, I filmed for 30years in the wild and that's great to Jack Hanna he gets to do that.

But what about the 176 million people that went to our zoos and aquariums in this country that are there to understand one thing, to love these creatures and help save these creatures. It's one of our last hopes and I can say this because I've been doing the wild stuff for almost 30 years as well as zoological stuff for almost 40 years. And trust me, Jack Hanna, and let this men would know. I think they know me well enough from the standpoint of what they seen and maybe do. I love animals more than anybody, I will never stand for any animal on our zoological park that doesn't seem happy.

I'll do everything in the world maybe the animals is not -- maybe I don't what day he went there, I don't care if it's hot, cold or whatever it was the day you went there. And I can tell you now, these animals in zoological parks live better than most people throughout the world and with our standards at American zoo and aquarium association, we make sure that their on that way. If they're not, then we will take care of that zoo.

Where these animals go to, they are making a statement there that yes there are some of these animals years ago, they went to the wrong places. Today we're trying our best to make sure that they're over. If we have animals they go to other accredited and zoological institution or breeders that have a great reputation. That's what we're trying to do.

I would never see an animal, I could tell you this, there'll no be an animal coming to the Columbus Zoo or the zoos that I know I've talked to the last few days ever go that Copenhagen zoo or the European -- whatever that union's called to support this kind of act. It will never happen with our zoos in this country I can tell you that right now.

MORGAN: OK. I've got to leave the debate there. Jack Hanna and Kerry Lauerman, Dr. Dale Jamieson thank you all very much indeed for joining me. It's a debate -- I hope we'll continue to raise this is an important one to be having.

Coming up, it's every snowmobiler's worst nightmare being trapped in an avalanche. How do you survive? I'll talk to one man who did just that and captured everything on his helmet cam.


MORGAN: And now to a story of survival in extreme weather.

Take a look at what happens when a snowmobiler is overpowered by Mother Nature. The whole thing caught on the helmet cam of snowmobiler Cody Strong.



Cody made out alive. He joins me now exclusively.

So, Cody that must be quite a wake up moment when that happens. What the hell is going through your mind?

CODY STRONG, COLORADO SNOWMOBILER SURVIVED AVALANCHE: I didn't even know. I thought another snowmobiler had hit me at the time. MORGAN: I mean, I guess you are doing this -- you're doing this for thrill seeking but when you get a thrill of that magnitude which could potentially be fatal. I would imagine the pleasure factor diminishes quite quickly, isn't it?

STRONG: I mean is -- I still enjoy doing it. I like doing -- I mean, it's everything fun about it like you can't beat it but -- there's definitely learning curve to it as I learned there like there's a lot to it other than just go and try to tear up everything you can see.

MORGAN: What is the psyche of snowmobilers? When there's so much snow around and the conditions are pretty scary. What makes you guys go out there and risk death?

STRONG: Not everyday is like that obviously, but it's just the whole another world you're just by yourself, I mean, just you and the machine and you're trying everything not to get stuck and just keep your thrill way up.

MORGAN: So, when this avalanche of snow smashed on top of you as we see there, the almighty thump. Did you think you are going to survived it or what happens to you in your head?

STRONG: Well, like -- I've seen a little bit of like what I thought was a rooster from another snowmobile. Basically, I though a friend was up above the trees that I was trying to go through and I thought his track had just thrown a rooster on my face so I kind of braced for it.

And like clearly I was just some incompletely taken away and I didn't even know it was an avalanche until I came to a stop and look behind me and seeing that there are all the snow that had gone, and then my snowmobile was upside down and covered up. But I wasn't really scared or anything until I turned around and seeing that it was an avalanche and realize that my friend that I thought was up above me was probably buried.

So, in the video you can see me like waving my arms up and down to my friends down below because I was in a little bit of panic to go find my friend that I thought was buried at the time. And you can see it when I stand up on the snowmobile I actually -- I'm sitting there waving my hands and then I point and then that's when I seen him and then I knew that like we just got extremely lucky.

MORGAN: Now, were you guys at the time in the process of what I believe is called highmarking.

STRONG: No. I wasn't in the process of a highmark. When the video starts out I go up to these trees and like I knew that that area where I was, was pretty sketchy as far as like an avalanche because you can see how it's wide open, and I mean, it looked like it has sled before. And -- but when I was way up to the left and I was going up the trees like I was just in a thrill basically like the snow is so deep and I mean you're just wide open the whole time. And when I ... MORGAN: Because the reason why I asked you, Cody, is that highmarkers, it says here, seek steep slopes covered by fresh powder and there they play chicken with the laws of gravity, full throttling uphill to the moment when they turn back down the slope or their sleds topple.

I wouldn't say it's massively dissimilar series of events to what you have involved in.

STRONG: Definitely, I was just enjoying a nice side hill and -- but there is not better thrill than trying to highmarking when you get a bunch of your buddies and just see who can go the highest. It just -- it keeps going and going until you're standing on top.

MORGAN: They say a successful day of highmarking is one in which the riders spends no time underneath his sled. The snowmobile itself emerges undamaged and no ones triggered an avalanche. So that wasn't a very successful day wasn't it? Because the avalanche happened.

STRONG: No, we ...

MORGAN: And you're under your sled.

STRONG: The avalanche happened, my snowmobile got mangled to the trees, its pretty beat up. And then I don't know how I managed to go through all them trees without even hitting a limb. But my snowmobile took a pretty good beating through it.

MORGAN: I mean apparently more people die from snowmobile deaths from avalanches than any other sport in the last 10 years. But do you think on serious point there should be some form of regulations for snowmobiling?

STRONG: I mean -- and there is a -- to a certain extent a form regulation like there's areas we can't go. But then at the same point I think there is -- if there was more deaths due to snowmobile I think it's because you have more access to get to them, like -- I mean not anybody can just walk up a mountain and bring a snowmobile and they're just getting bigger, and better, and faster, and more power like they can get you to then back country places, and honestly that like it's just coming into. It's getting more dangerous because of the places it'll take you.

MORGAN: Do you basically have to have a screw loose to be doing this snowmobiling a lot?

STRONG: I mean there's a lot of different of styles of it I guess. But I guess me and the friends that I go with we like to push each other.

MORGAN: So that's a yes basically, isn't it?

STRONG: Yes, and there's way crazier people than me.

MORGAN: Really, God this is why I've never skied you see because I always imagine that lurking in these mountains with people like you with your mad snowmobiles.

STRONG: It's a -- you should go out there sometimes. It's fun to watch some of them guys are crazy what they can do on a snowmobile.

MORGAN: I think anyone that you would categorize as crazy must be completely insane.

Anyway, Cody, I know that you guys do this. I know it's not illegal. So I'm sure you'll be back up by doing it again as soon as you want too. And I wish you all the very best with it, and a very lucky escape. Thanks for joining me.

STRONG: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up, the Oscar Nominee star and amazing star of "Dallas Buyers Club" Matthew McConaughey on the role that may just win him finally the coveted Best Actor.


MORGAN: Matthew McConaughey is indisputably on a roll. Nominated for Best Actor for "Dallas Buyers Club", and also getting a little attention for his role in the "Wolf of Wall Street". I sat down with him at the nominee's luncheon to talk about life in the Oscar spotlight.


MORGAN: So, Matthew, the last time I spoke to you with a great interview and ended with you playing the bongos. I don't think even you in that moment could have ever imagine quite what has happened to your career in the last year. How do you feel about this extraordinary resurgence?

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, BEST ACTOR NOMINEE FOR THE "DALLAS BUYERS CLUB": It doesn't feel surreal I mean it feels very real it's happening, and I understand what's happening, I'm aware of what's happening. But I've never really thought about, you know, this is the result.

Part of when I look back about all the reason I know of why I'm sitting here or why I've got a nomination is to really just put my head down and thought process, process, process, do the work and enjoying the experience so much that that was reward enough.

Now let's go to the next job, put your head down and do the work. Love the process, the more process of any of that become, the more results you seem to be getting.

MORGAN: So being here now is the frontrunner to win an Oscar for Best Actor. Is that the culmination of everything you've ever work for or do you believe in a way it maybe the start of something very special?

MCCONAUGHEY: I think it's a wonderful moment in my career that is in the middle of its approach. I don't feel, it doesn't feel like a destination, it doesn't. I mean very supremely honored just the gold standard in the industry I'm fortunate to work in. But I -- it doesn't feel like it's a resolution, you know, no I'm still on the approach, on the approach.

MORGAN: I tweeted the other day, are you on Twitter?


MORGAN: Absolutely, you use it a bit. I tweeted that I thought the pound for pound; I did this after watching "Wolf of Wall Street" and "Dallas Buyer's Club" then "True Detective".


MORGAN: And I felt compelled to tell the world that I thought right now pound for pound you are the Best Actor in the world.


MORGAN: And I meant it. And I think many people are saying this now about you. About the variety of what you've been doing ...


MORGAN: ... the risks you've been taking, the commitment that you've brought to these roles is really something quite special.

MCCONAUGHEY: Yeah, well thank you.

MORGAN: But that's not you. Where did you found that strength to do them because you were drifting along by your own emission (ph) for quite a while doing, I guess relatively easier movies.

MCCONAUGHEY: Well the exercise is different, muscles I mean look, that what you're talking about in the work that I've been doing that I think people are noticing. These characters have it's -- I was really able to find a very state (ph) identity. Really had -- they had clear obsessions.

MORGAN: Is that the key?

MCCONAUGHEY: That's -- yeah. To own your man to own my guy and see it from the inside out. If a clear identity (ph). A romantic comedy is not about a character's identity as much. No one cares about the work that you guys job is or what its passage. They're not obsessed with certain things. They can't be but they'll sink the romantic comedy so they float across the top.

These have been really singularly focused, obsessed characters. A lot of them live on the fringes of society, but their islands and they make up their own rules, make up their own laws, they don't play cater pander to society. Those are freedom that I found in that.

MORGAN: If you win and you're standing there on the Oscar's podium on what would be, I guess professionally, the greatest you've ever had. You're probably thinking at that moment and when you about everything in your life, everybody who's contributed to you getting to that moment.

Who are the key people when you look back over the whole time that you would feel most thankful to?

MCCONAUGHEY: Well, I've got thanks -- I've got my own personal thanks to God, I've got my own personal thanks to family in many respects, the family I've got now, the family I came from, and I've got another little secret thank for somebody I know very well that I might share if I was so fortunate to.

MORGAN: Someone that had an effect on your life.


MORGAN: What do you think you'll feel when you're standing there if you get that?

MCCONAUGHEY: Well, I'm not -- I'm -- look, I'm not there yet so ...

MORGAN: But if you do, how would you feel?

MCCONAUGHEY: ... I really haven't thought about what I would feel. I'm really not projecting myself to that position. I don't know what I would say. I haven't written anything. I don't plan on writing anything. It's called -- you know what the coupe de gras is? The finishing blow? I don't want to coupe de gras it. You're going to write a speech for something you hadn't won yet that spooks me. If I ever get back here I'll still only have one first time in this so I'm going to enjoy this head high and heart high.

MORGAN: If I could replay for you one moment in your life outside of marriage and kids ...


MORGAN: ... what would you choose?

MCCONAUGHEY: Replay that -- just any moment?

MORGAN: Any moment. The greatest moment.

MCCONAUGHEY: The greatest moment?

MORGAN: One you'd most like to live through again.

MCCONAUGHEY: The most like to live through again. Shoot. The most important ones were some of the ones that I don't want to relive through again at all.

MORGAN: Going back to that in yourself can be a great moment ...

MCCONAUGHEY: Yeah. I mean, you know, what happens to a man if they lose their father, incredible things happen to a man after they lose their father.

MORGAN: What impact did that have on you?

MCCONAUGHEY: Courage, integrity, you know, anybody loses a father that's the main crutch in a man's life, and he's there for a reason because, you know, if it ever comes down to it you got, you know, my father would lean up against me.

MORGAN: So what's your father have made of you being Oscar nominee?

MCCONAUGHEY: He'd love it. He'd be hamming it up right now. He'd be hamming it up. He would love it. Absolutely. And he is.

MORGAN: He's watching you.

MCCONAUGHEY: He's making this Gumbo and his slimming meringue pie and sharing the middle life (ph).

MORGAN: Can you quite believe where you go it? I know you had a plan. I know it's been brilliantly executed. Can you quite believe it?

MCCONAUGHEY: Absolutely. Yeah. 100 percent I believe. Like I said earlier, I had no way to feel like this is a surreal moment. I'm very engaged in what's happening, extremely appreciative to understand, you know, what the reasons are that someone would say they'd be deeming me with a nomination and what's been going on with my life. I understand where I'm responsible that I understand where all that other people are responsible to that.

MORGAN: My wife has a question. She wants me to ask you.


MORGAN: How I can lose 43 pounds quickly?

MCCONAUGHEY: Go to Mexico and drink the water.

MORGAN: Matthew, best of luck. I really mean that.

MCCONAUGHEY: All right. Thank you, Piers.


MORGAN: We'll be right back with a preview of my interviews with two other huge Oscar contenders. Superstars Bono and Pharrell Williams.


MORGAN: Tomorrow, an A-list to and Oscar nominee with family on his mind, Bono of U2 are nominated for Best Song for "Ordinary Love" in the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom". I asked him what his mother would think if she could see him now.


MORGAN: What would your mother have made of you at the Oscars?

BONO, U2 BAND MEMBER OSCAR NOMINEE FOR "ORDINARY LOVE": Well, she only saw or heard me sing once and on the stage just before she passed away.

Wow. I don't know. I think she'd laugh. She'd laugh a lot the first time. I'd hope she laugh a lot this time. We're playing which is nice. We're going to play at the show.

Yeah, I guess, look, you talk about people who get you to where you've got, you know, it's always the obstacles or so is the things that, you know, that define you, you know. That's where you get your defiance (ph) from. That's what you're missing and defiance is the essence of romance, isn't it Piers?

MORGAN: It certainly is, Bono.


MORGAN: I also sat down with Best Song nominee Pharrell Williams. He's up for the song "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2". The question I had to ask him, what's up with the hat?


PHARREL WILLIAMS, OSCAR NOMINEE FOR "HAPPY" FROM "DESPICABLE ME 2": The funny thing is I think I can't take any credit for it because it was Vivienne Westwood that you totally knew, you walked right up to me, you know exactly what it was.


WILLIAMS: But, you know, this was her ode to Malcolm Mclaren in the 80s and where, you know, when hip-hop was just sort of, you know, showing its face to the world and the way that it was sort of penetrating all of the demographics. She was there very early on with Malcolm Mclaren and, you know, the buffalo stands and the buffalo gals and their song was just like huge and all the neighborhood said, you know, across America and respectively the rest -- around the world and I just remember that moment.


MORGAN: An all-star show, Pharrel Williams and of course the legendary Bono. That's tomorrow.

That's all for us tonight though.

Anderson Cooper starts right now.