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Quest Means Business

Movie, TV Actors Join Writers On Picket Lines; Heat Wave Grips Parts Of US And Europe; Firefighters Battle Wildfires In Croatia; Biden Administration Forgive $39B In U.S. Student Debt; Suspect In Gilgo Beach Murders Pleads Not Guilty; London Court Wraps Up Cross-Examination Of Spacey. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 14, 2023 - 15:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: US markets look set to cap off a stellar week on a high. The Dow heading towards its fifth straight day of gains, boosted by

strong earnings from US banks. Those are the markets and these are the main events.

Hollywood actors join the picket lines as show business faces its biggest strike in decades.

Some of Europe's favorite tourist attractions are closed as the continent scorches under sweltering heat.

And a year after Sri Lanka's economic woes prompted a nationwide uprising, I'll speak to the country's Foreign minister about its recovery.

Live from Atlanta, it is Friday, July 14th, I'm Lynda Kinkade in for Richard Quest and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Tonight, Hollywood actors have joined writers on the picket lines for the first time in more than 60 years, setting the stage for what could be a

long costly fight with the studios.

These are live pictures out of New York where picket lines are formed outside NBC's headquarters, as well as outside CNN's parent company, Warner

Bros. Discovery.

And in Los Angeles, they are been marching outside Netflix and the major studio lots.

Chloe Melas takes a look at what led to this historic walk off.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voice over): The actors of Hollywood are on strike.

FRAN DRESCHER, PRESIDENT, SAG-AFTRA: This is a moment of history, that is a moment of truth.

MELAS (voice over): Disrupting the industry in the midst of its critical summer movie season.

The actors of the forthcoming movie, "Oppenheimer" walking out of their premiere Thursday.

FLORENCE PUGH, ACTOR: It has been a really, really tense few days for a lot of people, not just actors, but everybody in the industry who are going

to be affected by this decision, but affected by a decision that is necessary.

KENNETH BRANAGH, ACTOR: We know it's a critical time at this point in the industry and the issues that are involved need to be addressed. They are

difficult conversations, I know everybody is trying to get a fair deal. That's what is required, so we will support that.

MELAS (voice over): And the actors from the highly anticipated "Barbie" movie voicing their support for their union amidst their global promotional


MARGOT ROBBIE, ACTOR: Yes, absolutely. No, I am very much in support of all the unions and I'm a part of SAG, so I would absolutely stand by that


RYAN GOLDING, ACTOR: I would support the actors. Yes.

GRETA GERWIG, ACTOR: I love the union. They've always protected all of the artists I know and I really want them to stand strong and win their


MELAS (voice over): The union is fed up over compensation in the streaming era enough to walk the line.

DRESCHER: We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us.

MELAS (voice over): The strike crippling a TV and movie business --

(PEOPLE protesting.)

MELAS (voice over): Already limping during the Writers Guild of America strike. SAG-AFTRA represents around 160,000 entertainment professionals of

all kinds.


MELAS (voice over): Along with better pay, actors see residuals for past work have dried up in the streaming era. Add to that, artificial


Actors say AI threatens their future. The Guild claiming that studios want to use AI to replace background actors.

DUNCAN CRABTREE-IRELAND, NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAG-AFTRA: They propose that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get

paid for one day's pay, and their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in

any project they want with no consent and no compensation.

MELAS (voice over): Studios say they've offered the highest percent increase in minimum pay in 35 years, and that the actors aren't seeing


BOB IGER, CEO, WALT DISNEY COMPANY: This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption.

MELAS (voice over): Disney CEO, Bob Iger notes, the decline in revenue from traditional platforms and the industry wide struggle to make streaming

a viable alternative.

IGER: There is a level of expectation that they have that is just not realistic and they are adding to a set of challenges that this business is

already facing that is quite frankly very disruptive.

DRESCHER: How they plead poverty, that they're losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is




KINKADE: Well, the last time actors and writers went on strike together, it was 1960. At that time, the Screen Actors Guild was led by Ronald

Reagan, the future US president. The disruption and that was coming from television, the unions wanted to make sure their members got paid for

movies that will be played on TV with streaming.

Show business is now at another inflection point, and in the words of actor, George Clooney, he says: "Actors and writers have lost their ability

to make a living. For our industry to survive, that has to change."

Reed Alexander is a correspondent at "Business Insider" and a former actor. He joins us now from Florida.

And I understand you're also a former intern here at CNN International. Good to have you with us.

REED ALEXANDER, CORRESPONDENT, "BUSINESS INSIDER": It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much, Lynda. Great to be on with you.

KINKADE: So there is a lot to be said about this strike. Historically, strikes were often about pay and conditions, but this is also about much

more. They worry about artificial intelligence coming for their jobs. Is that right?

ALEXANDER: Yes, yes. That's absolutely right. Look, every industry is under assault in some way, shape, or form from the sort of incursion of

technology that we've seen, especially accelerate in the past year with the rise of these AI-powered tools.

In Hollywood, we're seeing so many of these tools that can replicate people's likenesses or even, you know, resurrect deceased actors, resurrect

their voices in many cases and that, you know, the actors and writers say presents a significant threat to their ability to sustain their careers and

professions, so there is so much more here at play than a typical sort of workplace dispute around wages, et cetera.

They say they're really fighting for the soul of their craft, and it really just has come under fire from these powerful forces from big tech and Wall

Street. And you know, those forces don't seem to be letting up in spite of the significant pain that we see on the picket lines today, and this sort

of overwhelming response from tens of thousands of actors who are mobilizing to strike.

KINKADE: And Reed, obviously, we know that Hollywood writers are in their third month of strikes; actors joined, voted to join this strike last


You started as an actor back when the platform, YouTube was taking off, and you write in, in your article in "Business Insider" about this tech

tsunami, upending the traditional models.

Explain the effect that this tsunami has had on writers in Hollywood, because you say that they have fared the worst.

ALEXANDER: Yes, that's absolutely right. You know, years ago, when I was starting out as an actor, fifteen, twenty years ago now in Hollywood, I'll

give you a very interesting example.

I was on a show called "iCarly" for many years that was on Nickelodeon. Fast forward 15 years, the show is back, it's now on a streamer. So let's

think about the economics between the original "iCarly" versus the new "iCarly" or really any shows in the streaming era, both for actors and for


You know, residual pay was such a critical lever for income for these hardworking people that in between series, because it is kind of like gig

work, you might do a 10-episode or 12-episode series, and then hope you get something else, you would be collecting residual pay. You know, that has

really withered in the age of streaming. So that's one serious issue.

Writers are also very worried about in this age of streaming, shorter seasons, you know, in this sort of cable network world, you might have 25

or 30 episodes for a season of a show. And now it might be 10. Think about it on the streamers that you and I watch.

They are concerned about a topic called mini rooms, which is essentially a mechanism to control headcount of numbers of writers. So there will be

fewer writers staffed on projects. Fewer writers, fewer jobs, fewer people collecting an income.

I think the fundamental thing to think about here is 15 years ago was the last writer strike for a hundred days, and Netflix was like barely a

whisper. It was a mail-order DVD service, nobody knew what Apple TV+ would turn out to be or Disney+ or Hulu, you know, these are all sort of

inventions of the digital age.

And the stakes have gotten so much higher from that strike to now for both sides. You know, the studios as well say that streaming has put a real

pressure on their ability to turn a profit. So all sides trying to figure out this new landscape for economics here, but at the heart of it are

performers and creators who say that they are Hollywood's longest running denizens, they've been there since the beginning, but they are somehow

getting impacted the worst.

KINKADE: Yes, so residual payments is a major concern, but also, we've heard from actors who are speaking about their fear that their likeness,

their image could be used in perpetuity by AI in terms of, especially in terms of background actors.

You write about how this appears to have ingredients of a somewhat dystopian movie, showbiz-verse robots and there's no doubt that artificial

intelligence is going to take jobs in many industries including the entertainment industry, but what can be done right now in negotiations to

minimize that negative impact?


ALEXANDER: Yes, one of the things that the actors are fighting for, SAG- AFTRA and their union is fighting for is to prevent background actors. So these are the "extras" that you see in the background of scenes from having

their likeness scanned, and then replicated, so they might only be paid for one day of work as opposed to, you know, if you're shooting a scene in a

movie, you might have to go back for several days as a background artist.

So SAG is fighting to ensure that you know, this tool, this technology to sort of scan likenesses of people and minimize their number of working

hours or working days is something that is struck out of the deal that they will eventually arrive at with the studios. So that's one mechanism that

they can use.

You know, in the case of writers, they can try and control things like an entire script be generated from a tool like, you know, ChatGPT, or one of

these AI tools that is very powerful at writing original content.

You know, they want to make sure that we don't live in a world where one of these tools could spit out a hundred-page movie, and then a studio could

hire one writer and say, you know, fix this up, make a couple of edits. So these are the kinds of things that both unions are fighting for in their

negotiations with the AMPTP, that's the acronym for the studios, the streamers, the networks, you know, this powerful trade association that

represents them all.

It is very tough to get a look inside what's going on behind closed doors, because the negotiations are so secret, but that's what we've learned

through leaks and reporting and talking to sources.

KINKADE: All right, Reed Alexander, good to get your perspective from "Business Insider," thanks so much for your time.

ALEXANDER: Thank you so much for having me. Great to be here.

KINKADE: Well, I want to go to the picket lines now. Chloe Melas is outside NBC Studios in New York, Natasha Chen is outside Netflix Studios in

Los Angeles.

Good to have you both with us. And Natasha, I'll start with you because you interviewed Fran Drescher, who is of course the president of the SAG-AFTRA

after the actors voted to join this strike, what did she tell you about the negotiations and the frustrations that she's facing?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fran Drescher told me that she was very disappointed, that this was a sad decision to make, a

very grave serious one. Even though you see the energy high behind us, people very motivated and excited for day one of the strike, it is still a

very serious decision they had to make, she said.

She was very disappointed with the incremental changes that she says the studios offered. She compared that to moving furniture on the Titanic, and

a lot of the people here we've been talking to say that what she has talked about, really resonate with them when they discuss better compensation,

residuals, and streaming and AI.

Here is one actor we met on the picket line talking about a residual check that her brother got for a network show that he did as a child actor 30

years ago, compared to the check, she got for a streaming show.


BRITTANY GARMS, SAG-AFTRA MEMBER: My brother was an actor. He has since retired, but in the 90s worked a lot and we sometimes get residuals, and

he'll get checks from broadcast television shows that he did in 1995, that are worth more than residual checks from big corporations for films I did

in 2020.

And that is, I think, a big part of the reason why people are out here today. I understand that streaming is such an uncharted territory, but

there has to be some sort of cap because they're making money. All of these millionaires are making money, but nobody else is seeing any of that money.


CHEN: And she also said that, as expected, there are actors who have day jobs in between acting jobs, but she said they're making so little that

many of them are also keeping those second jobs while they are employed on a shoot for a TV show or a movie -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes. Unbelievable that comparison, Natasha.

And from the picket line where you are, I want to go to the picket line in New York where Chloe Melas is. Just tell us what you're seeing there in

terms of the turnout? And what are people saying about how long they think this strike might last?

MELAS: Well, so I'm standing in front of NBC Universal, and over my shoulder, I think that you can see probably about 150 or more actors.

One of the famous faces that's here today is actor, Jason Sudeikis. You probably know him from his hit show, "Ted Lasso," and he said that he's

willing to be out here and picket for as long as it takes, but there is apprehension, and there is fear, because these actors, they're not all

Jason Sudeikis, and they are concerned about how they're going to pay their bills, and how are they going to support their families?

There are even actors here today with their children, you know, because they don't have childcare. So they brought their children along with them

to the picket lines.

And so one of the people that I spoke to is the vice president of SAG- AFTRA's New York local chapter, and this is what she had to say about why residuals are important and how streaming is affecting actor's pay. Take a



LINDA POWELL, VICE PRESIDENT, SAG-AFTRA'S NEW YORK LOCAL: It has affected how we get paid residuals, which are what keep us going from job to job.

There is no tail to streaming, once they own it, they own it.


And we stop making money, and that has changed our lives completely, especially the rank and file working class actor.

So getting a piece, a bigger piece of the streaming pie, getting a success metric, they don't want to share their numbers of how well a show is doing

so that we don't share in the success if a show is a hit.


MELAS: So also to point out what a big and pivotal moment that today is that this is the first time since the 1960s that both the writers and the

actors have been on strike at the same time, and you can feel the energy here today. It's palpable.

People want to be here, but are they prepared to be here for months to come? They say yes, but they do hope that a resolution can be made soon.

Obviously, residuals and streaming and pay are important. Artificial Intelligence is also something that's on the table, but you heard Bob Iger

who runs Disney, who says that streaming isn't as lucrative as everyone thinks, and that the money just isn't there. So this could last for months

and cost the economies billions of dollars.

KINKADE: All right, it is a historical moment. Chloe Melas in New York and Natasha Chen in Los Angeles, thank you both very much.

Well, still to come, is this the new normal? That's what many are asking as an extreme heatwave grips the northern hemisphere.

We're heading to Southern Europe as tourism sites shut down and authorities urge people to stay indoors.


KINKADE: Welcome back.

This summer is becoming a survival test and a warning of what's to come as temperatures become more and more extreme. Heat waves are baking the

northern hemisphere, around 900 heat records have been broken in the United States so far in July.

Well, the 90 million people are living under heat alerts. Greece closed the ancient Acropolis for parts of the day to protect tourists. And in Italy,

extreme heat warnings have been issued for 15 cities.

Our Barbie Nadeau reports from Rome.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Lynda, even though the day is starting to wind down here, you know the temperatures are still very, very high.

We're outside the Roman Colosseum. We've been here all day. Tourists under the blazing sun, waiting for hours to get inside. You know for many

tourists that come to Rome, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So even this heat is not stopping them, and the city of Rome is doing everything

they can to try to make it a little bit more comfortable.



NADEAU (voice over): Rome, the Eternal City lately is more like the Infernal City. A deadly heatwave gripping Southern Europe has made those

trying to enjoy a Roman Holiday. rather uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it's hot. But yes, it is -- it is a little disappointing. I was thinking today like, because we're planning to not be

out when it's the hottest, like we're missing some hours to be able to do stuff but ultimately, to be able to enjoy it the most we're going to have

to cut out those hot hours of the day.

NADEAU (voice over): Temperatures are climbing and expected to top 40 degrees Celsius, 104 degrees Fahrenheit in Rome.

Italians have named the heatwave, Cerberus after a figure in Greek mythology that guarded the gates of hell. Officials say the best way to

combat the heat is with water, and Rome has no shortage of that.

Rome has more than 4,000 public water fountains with drinkable water, and Rome's Civil Protection Agency has an app that will help visitors locate

the closest one.

(GIUSEPPE NAPOLITANO speaking in foreign language.)

NADEAU (voice over): The command center head, Giuseppe Napolitano (ph) tells us that common sense is key and staying hydrated is essential. So is

using water to cool off he says.

But tempting as it may be to swim in a fountain, doing so runs the risk of a several hundred dollar fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, we can't stay out all day, that's for sure. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we just have to take a lot of breaks and not try and over plan.

NADEAU (voice over): The heatwave is supposed to last at least through next week, and for most tourists, canceling is not an option, which means

another week of hell, not fit for man or beast.


NADEAU (on camera): And Lynda, one of the worst pieces of news we've got to share though is that today is actually going to be the coolest day of

the next five, but temperatures in Rome, in Florence and other cities in Italy are only going to get hotter -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Tough conditions ahead. Our thanks to Barbie Nadeau for that report.

Well, the extreme heat is fueling wildfires in Croatia. Dozens of firefighters are battling blazes for a second day. Cars and homes have been

destroyed and temperatures are expected to stay around 40 degrees Celsius, 104 degrees Fahrenheit across the region for the next week.

Mato Frankovic is the mayor of Dubrovnik and one of Croatia's top tourist destinations. Good to have you with us, Mayor.

MAYOR MATO FRANKOVIC, DUBROVNIK, CROATIA: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you.

KINKADE: So many parts of Europe are right now in the grip of this heatwave and consequentially, you are seeing major summer storms and

wildfires. Just give us a sense of what Croatia is experiencing.

FRANKOVIC: Croatia is in good shape. We have very good organized fire brigades, and you can see that within two days, the fire near Sibenik is

already under control. So we are really very proud of our fire brigades.

Of course, we are facing like all Europe, high temperatures, but this is normal during the summertime. It's not something that's not expected. So I

could say that really everyone that comes in Dubrovnik can enjoy in the city.

We have beautiful beaches with a lot of shades so they can take a swim all day long. And the good information is that the temperature of the sea is

around 24 degrees Celsius, so we are really, I would say going in a good direction and of course, that we recommend to all of the tourists that are

coming to our city to rather use afternoon hours to visit all attractions within the city of Dubrovnik.

The good thing about the city of Dubrovnik is that facing back 2017, an overcrowded mess. Now you have completely other situation. Dubrovnik is

fully sustainable city. There are no more crowds, really everything well -- it's very well organized.

So we can say that the ones that are coming to Dubrovnik can really fully enjoying the city.

KINKADE: Of course across the country in Croatia, you just had the wettest May on record, a record amount of rainfall. Talk to us about how

climate change is impacting Croatia and the weather solutions, the climate proofing that Croatia is investing in because I understand in terms of

carbon footprint, Croatia is one of the best in Europe, has one of the lowest carbon footprints. Talk to us about the solutions.

FRANKOVIC: Croatia is really investing a lot in sustainable -- economy sustainability. In every step you can feel in Croatia.


Climate change are visible throughout the board, actually. So we really did have May, which was with a lot of rain, unexpected number of days of rain.

This definitely influenced even in tourism because of course, the ones that were coming to the city or to the Croatia were not so satisfied, because

they were expecting good weather, and instead, they got a lot of rainy days.

But I think the future of all of the country is more and more renewable sources of energy, less and less gas pollution, and this is something that

Croatia can say, freely, it can be proud of achievements that we did achieve throughout last 15 years, and we are very really sustainable

country with a lot of nature reserves, with a lot of really proof of good solutions considering renewable energy sources.

KINKADE: And Mayor, in terms of the extreme heat that we're seeing, the flooding that we've just been talking about, and the wildfires, what is

Croatia doing to help those most vulnerable because we know many homes in the US have air conditioning, that's not necessarily the case in much of


FRANKOVIC: Mediterranean climate, I could say it is mild climate. The construction of the houses, the houses are done on that way. So that

actually, we have a normal climate within our own houses, which is very important.

Majority of the houses in the Mediterranean part of Croatia are actually made of stone. And they are for years made like that, exclusively because

of the high heats and the high temperatures, because then they keep houses calmer.

All of the houses are equipped with air condition, and I can say that on the example of the city of Dubrovnik, we are now paying to the citizens of

Dubrovnik and giving them opportunity to take a part of their bill in order to build on their house rechargeable sources of energy using sun


So step by step, I think we can flow in fully sustainable, not just city, but fully sustainable country.

KINKADE: So some positive solutions moving in the right direction to address some of these climate concerns.

Good to have you with us, the mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, thanks for your time.

Well, still to come, the private army that rebelled against Moscow doesn't exist, according to Vladimir Putin, as the Kremlin tries to downplay the

role of the Wagner Group.

We'll have that story next.



KINKADE: Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade. There is much more of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when I'll be speaking to Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister

about how his countries are covering one year on from a national uprising.

And a decades-old icon is making a major comeback. Thanks to a new film. How Barbie is becoming big business. Before that, these are the headlines

this hour.

U.S. House lawmakers have passed a controversial military funding bill by a mostly party line vote. Conservative Republicans added amendments related

to abortion policy, transgender health care and diversity and inclusion programs. The bill now heads to the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Meantime, U.S. President Biden's administration says it's providing $39 billion worth of student loan relief. It says the move will cancel student

debt for some 800,000 people provided they meet certain criteria. It comes up to the Supreme Court struck down Mr. Biden's previous student loan

forgiveness plan.

New York police have arrested a suspect in connection with serial killings that have baffled law enforcement for more than a decade. Rex Heuermann, a

registered architect just pleaded not guilty in a Long Island courtroom. He's charged with murder over the deaths of three women whose bodies were

found in a Gilgo beach in 2010.

Actor Kevin Spacey was back in court Friday for his sexual assault trial in London. The court finished its cross examination of the Hollywood star and

heard from two witnesses. A total of four men have accused Spacey of sexual offences. He denies all 12 charges against him.

The Kremlin appears to be doing all it can to downplay the role of the private army that briefly rebelled against Moscow last month. Today's

spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Wagner group was never a legal entity. He was doubling down and what his boss President Putin said Thursday that

Wagner does not exist. He made the comment while discussing the meeting he had with a mercenary group's leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in the days after

that attempted coup.

Jill Dougherty is a CNN contributor and adjunct professor at the Georgetown University. She joins us now from Washington, D.C. Great to have you with

us, Jill.


KINKADE: So, Wagner does not exist, at least not legally. That's according to Putin's latest statement. What exactly does that mean?

DOUGHERTY: OK. Well, technically, he may be correct. And I think what the President is doing is, you know, he takes his legal hat, puts it on,

because he is actually a trained lawyer. And what he's saying is, physically, it may exist. Wagner exists. However, legally in Russia, it

does not because it is illegal to have a private military contractor. In other words, mercenaries. So he's kind of drawing a line but I think what

he's doing and especially in that interview, you can see he's trying to separate Wagner as a group of fighters who -- even though they've been very

brutal, have been effective from Prigozhin who after all, was their leader and who carried out that insurrection against the -- against senior

military leaders.

He's trying to separate those. He needs Wagner, but he certainly doesn't need Prigozhin and

anything that Prigozhin might do in the future.


KINKADE: And that -- it's interesting what he said, Jill, given the fact that Putin has now named Andrey Troshev as the new Wagner commander. How is

it possible that it could name a new leader for this group that he says doesn't legally exist? What do we know about this former Russian Colonel?

DOUGHERTY: Well, he can do it because he is President Putin. That's an easy answer, but really the commander that he's talking about and he actually

didn't use his name, he used his nickname which is the Gray Haired one, Sedoi, the Gray -- the Gray Hair guy. And he said, they -- well, they could

fight under this commander. He's commanded them for 16 months. So, who is he? Andrey Troshev is -- I believe, 61 years old, had a storied career in

the military.

He's a retired colonel. Got a lot of awards, served in Afghanistan, served during the Chechen wars. And then also in Syria after he retired. He was

with Wagner in Syria. And you have to say that he's no doubt very loyal to the Kremlin, and also seems like a pretty savvy guy who could keep the

Wagner fighters in line for the Kremlin.

KINKADE: Because that leads to another question I've got for you, Jill. Is -- what sort of impact this failed mutiny has had on Putin and his hold on


DOUGHERTY: Well, I think it has raised enormous questions about his leadership, because here we are weeks later and he's coming out and trying

to explain what happened at that meeting five days after the mutiny. And I think what he's trying to do is to say, in fact, in that interview,

actually said it, Lynda, he said, I think average Russians, you know, the Russian people understand very simply what happened.

These were good fighters but they got dragged into this. And so, I think what he's trying to say, again, preserve those fighters because they're

useful to the Kremlin. And then somehow solve Prigozhin but it's making -- it's very schizophrenic. And it's been back and forth, and back and forth

which undermines his image as a leader. And just the last thing that happened was we have video from the Belarusian Defense Minister showing

Wagner fighters in Belarus training the territorial guards.

So what does that mean? That was the original deal? Maybe some of them took it. It's all really continuing to be very confusing, and I think that

really does undermine Putin in his image.

KINKADE: Yes, it certainly does. But we appreciate you providing some sort of clarity on what on earth is going on. Jill Dougherty, good to have you

with us. Thank you.

Well, it has been one year since protesters in Sri Lanka stormed the presidential palace. We're going to hear from the Foreign Affairs Minister

and what Sri Lanka has been doing to recover from its economic collapse.



KINKADE: Welcome back. India is headed to the moon after an historic rocket launch on Friday. If all goes accordingly that Chandrayaan-3 will land on

the moon South Pole in August, and the stakes are high. Prime Minister Modi hopes success in space will cement India's role as a global power. CNN's

Kristie Lu Stout has the full story.



KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: India's literally shooting for the moon with a historic mission that could cement its position as a space

power. The Chandrayaan-3 which means moon vehicle in Sanskrit launch Friday afternoon. As the name suggests, this is India's third lunar mission and

it's part of the country's greater bid to be a space power. During the last mission in 2019, the rover crashed after a hard landing.

With this mission, they're aiming to land the rover near the moon's unexplored South Pole. Officials say the lander is due to reach the moon on

August the 23rd. After the landing, scientists plan to deploy the rover and to conduct scientific experiments including analyzing the chemistry of the

lunar soil. Measuring the temperature of the lunar surface and scanning for moon quakes.

On launch day, India's Prime Minister tweeted this. "14th of July 2023 will always be etched in golden letters as far as India's space sector is

concerned. Chandrayaan-3, our third lunar mission will embark on its journey. This remarkable mission will carry the hopes and dreams of our


Success would be huge for India. So far, only three countries have successfully soft landed a craft on the moon. The U.S., the former Soviet

Union, and China.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


KINKADE: One year after Sri Lanka's nationwide uprising, the country's started to turn the corner from its worst economic crisis yet. You might

remember the extraordinary scenes when Sri Lankans stormed the presidential palace. Response to the crippling inflation and the shortages of basic

goods like fuel. The protests culminated in President Rajapaksa's resignation. A few months ago, Sri Lanka secured a $3 billion loan from the


While fuel and food shortages have ended, struggles remain. The economy is expected to keep shrinking in 2023.

Ali Sabry stepped in as Sri Lanka's finance minister at the height of the crisis. He now serves as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Good to have you

with us.

ALI SABRY, SRI LANKAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Thank you very much for having me, Lynda.

KINKADE: So, it was a year -- it's now a year this week since what was known as the people's uprising against the government's poor management of

the economy. A year since the President fled and then resigned, a year since the Prime Minister was forced out of office. How are things in Sri

Lanka today?

SABRY: Things are looking much better than what it compared to be last year. Inflation has come down towards about a single figure through the mid

of this month. Tourists are returning. Rupee has appreciated significantly, almost about 20 percent against the dollar. We have eliminated the full and

other cues. And we have entered into a deep reform to the economy. So I wouldn't say that we are out of the woods yet, but some significant

progress had been made in all sectors of the economy.

KINKADE: And in the first six months, India provided $4 billion to assist in credit lines, currency swap, essential drugs. Looking ahead, talk to us

about how Sri Lanka is cementing that relationship further with India in terms of port development, in terms of energy projects, because I

understand the Indian president is due to visit Sri Lanka next week, July 21st. What can we expect?

SABRY: Yes. Sri Lankan partnership with India had been historical. Last year, as you correctly pointed out, they gave us a lifeline during a very

difficult time. While we are negotiating with the IMF and other multilateral lenders. We had to have some sort of a bridge financing in

order to fill the gap. India stepped in and provided that very, very important support to us.


India had always been a very close friend and a traditional and our biggest neighbor. So, we are looking at Indian partnership with India as vital for

our recovery and also to growth. President Wickremesinghe will be visiting next week, I'll be accompanying him. There are a number of areas we want to

deal and deal with India, particularly on the economic front. So, we are looking forward to that partnership.

People to people contact, linking connectivity, power connectivity, and investment from the Indian side on port, refineries, power sector,

renewable energy, hospitality trade. So there are a number of issues and areas we would like to work with India. And there are a lot of momentum and

kind of hype towards this. We would work together in order to build a better country for both sides, particularly in the northern region of Sri

Lanka and southern part of India.

KINKADE: And of course, tourism is a big industry. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country to visit. I was there a few years ago and loved it.

SABRY: Thank you.

KINKADE: At the height of the economic and political crisis last year. Obviously, it was a turn off for tourists. Can you tell us how the tourism

industry is making a comeback? Have tourists returned in large numbers?

SABRY: Actually, yes. Tourism is central for our recovery. Tourism is the third largest foreign currency earner for Sri Lanka during the peak in

2018. Sri Lanka got about 2.5 million tourists. Sri Lanka is consistently ranked one of the best places to visit as you yourself had experience. We

have so much to offer. But we haven't come to the pre-pandemic level yet. Because initially, we had a few setup and hiccups during the pandemic.

And thereafter last year's -- the economic upheaval. But things are getting much better. People have started to come particularly from India and

Western Europe. It have -- it hasn't come up to the real potential. But signs are there. And this month had been particularly good because there's

so much to offer. So I would expect so many others to return. A lot of activities are taking place. A lot of flights are taking shape.

A lot of tourists are coming in from various parts of the world. China had opened up. India had opened up for a long, long period of time for Sri

Lanka. And Western Europe had been traditionally a very good market for us. So that's Canada and other places where Sri Lankas does for -- in numbers

and they are returning to see their roots. So we are very, very hopeful that there will be a remarkable recovery towards this season, particularly

in the winter in the Western world.

KINKADE: Ali Sabry, the finance minister, the Foreign Affairs Minister now for Sri Lanka. Good to have you with us on the program. We wish you and the

people of Sri Lanka all the very best. Thank you.

SABRY: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me. Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, still ahead, after the break. The new Barbie movie premieres next week. Toy maker Mattel hopes it will boost sales of the iconic dolls.

Stay with us.


KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, a week from today, Barbie will premiere and the U.S. and Britain and a full disclaimer, the movie is produced by CNN's

parent company Warner Brothers. Well, Barbie dolls have been a fixture on the toy aisle for over 60 years. The brand has made Mattel plenty of money

but not without its controversies. Vanessa Yurkevich reports.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Barbara Millicent Roberts, you know her as Barbie. Parents Mattel, born in

1959, but doesn't look a day over 19.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone had a Barbie, and it was the thing to have a Barbie.

YURKEVICH (voiceover): Next week, Barbie comes to life in a new movie with an English director and actors.



YURKEVICH: Distributed by CNN's parent company Warner Brothers Discovery.

RICHARD DICKSON, PRESIDENT AND COO, MATTEL: It's an incredibly important milestone for the brand.

YURKEVICH: Barbie, beloved by girls and boys around the world, has had ups and downs.

DICKSON: Back in 2014-15 we hit a low, and it was a moment to reflect in the context of why did Barbie lose relevance? She didn't reflect the

physicality -- the look if you will of the world around us.

YURKEVICH (voiceover): Now, Barbie, Ken, and friends have many different skin tones, shapes, and special traits that make them look more like us.

But this year's first-quarter sales at Mattel slumped, down 22 percent from last year's.

YURKEVICH: How is Mattel and Barbie viewed as a brand?

KATIE MANCINI, GENERAL MANAGER, LANDOR & FITCH BRANDING: There's been a lot of decline in that differentiation and in that relevance that keep a brand

fresh and top of mind from a purchase perspective. And when that happens, brands go into a place of fatigue.

YURKEVICH (voiceover): Mattel hopes this new movie will give them the boost they're looking for.

DICKSON: We also now have the opportunity to reach new ages and stages that ultimately, from a business perspective, provides huge merchandising and

monetization opportunities.

YURKEVICH: We're standing in front of.


YURKEVICH (voiceover): At Hom Bom Toys, owner Ilene Gayer can't keep movie Barbie on the shelf.

GAYER: Within a day they were gone.

YURKEVICH: Have you always had Barbie --

GAYER: Absolutely.

YURKEVICH (on camera): -- and Ken, and friends in-store?

GAYER: Absolutely. It's a staple. It's the moms and dads who are more nostalgic than the kids.

YURKEVICH (voiceover): But that nostalgia isn't for everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how she's evolved.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like, does she have a college degree now?

YURKEVICH (voiceover): The movie has calculated for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "BARBIE": We haven't played with Barbies since we were like five years old.


YURKEVICH (voiceover): And for others, you're never too old for Barbie.

CAROL SPENCER, FORMER BARBIE CLOTHING DESIGNER, MATTEL 1963-1998: I am 90 years old -- or I should say 90 years young.

YURKEVICH (voiceover): Carol Spencer didn't grow up playing with Barbies.

SPENCER: This was my first project.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But Barbie wouldn't be, well, Barbie without her.

SPENCER: I was a designer for the Barbie doll starting in 1963 for over 35 years, and I loved every minute of it.

YURKEVICH (voiceover): While Carol helped make Barbie, Barbie helped make Mattel. As other toys have come and gone, Barbie is still strutting.

SPENCER: Barbie really carried Mattel for a great many years. I thought of every child who played with a Barbie doll as my child. So let me tell you,

I have a big family and I love it.

YURKEVICH (voiceover): And that is the magic and power of Barbie.


KINKADE: Our thanks to Vanessa for that report.

Well, America's top diplomat took aim and Russia and its war in Ukraine as he attended the Asian Foreign Ministers Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Antony Blinken says Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue the war indefinitely as long as he believes that he can despite the horrific costs

to Russia. He said NATO's long-term commitments may be the quickest way to bring the war to an end.

Meanwhile, Blinken met China's top diplomat Wang Yi on the sidelines of that summit Thursday. Wang says the U.S. needs to take real action to put

bilateral relations back on the right track.

CNN's Marc Stewart reports.

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This meeting between U.S. Secretary of State adds it

blinkin and China's one year is part of this piecemeal effort to try to cool things down and improve the relations between the two nations.


This 90-minute meeting happened on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia. We've been hearing from a senior

State Department official who said this was intended to be a follow up to previous conversations in Beijing. We're told the two were able to pick up

where things left off and then take the conversations to the next level of detail adding the conversation was a bit more focused on action and

concrete next steps.

Secretary Blinken talked about the need for peace in the Taiwan Strait. According to a Chinese government readout, Wang told Blinken, the next step

for China and the U.S. would be to take real actions to put the relationship back on track.

The two men also discussed the global flow of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, human rights and recent e-mail hacks.

Marc Stewart, CNN, Tokyo.

KINKADE: Well, there are just moments left to trade on Wall Street. We'll have the final numbers and the closing bell right after this.


KINKADE: Hello. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back. U.S. markets are mixed definition of what was a strong week. The Dow has been in the green all

day, though some of those gains have evaporated in the last hour of trade. It is set to close though almost at 100 points higher. The S&P 500 and the

NASDAQ are both lower after four straight gain -- days of gains. Let's have a look at the Dow components. UnitedHealth has popped on an earnings beat.

J.P. Morgan is higher. Its profit surging last quarter off the back of those high interest rates. There are a few tech stocks In the red and

Chevron is at the bottom.


Well, that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I am Lynda Kinkade. The closing bell is ringing on Wall Street. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.