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Who's Talking to Chris Wallace

Interview With U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; Interview With Michael Imperioli; Interview With Byron Allen. Aired 7- 8p ET

Aired October 30, 2022 - 19:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: The cash payout would be just over $497 million after taxes. Enough to buy all the discounted Halloween candy your heart desires.

Well, thank you so much for joining me this evening. I'm Pamela Brown. I'll see you again next weekend. "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" is up next. Have a great night.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Welcome back to WHO'S TALKING. My guests tonight became famous early in their careers. Starting with the most requested Democrat on the campaign trail, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. In a candid conversation about politics, parenting and a controversial billionaire.


WALLACE: What do you think of Elon Musk?



WALLACE: Then the newest visitor to the "White Lotus," and the award- winning actor Michael Imperioli tells stories you've never heard about his time on "The Sopranos," and he answers the big question we all still have about that classic series.


WALLACE: Any doubt in your mind what the ending meant?


WALLACE: And later the youngest comedian to perform for Johnny Carson is now a media mogul. Byron Allen on his growing empire and his beef with Barack Obama.


BYRON ALLEN, COMEDIAN AND BUSINESSMAN: The president of the United States is nothing more than temporary hired help.

WALLACE: You've had a few clunkers in recent years.


WALLACE: That's not perception. That's reality.

SHANIA TWAIN, SINGER: I've been feeling stronger than ever now in my life.

WALLACE: How would you rate yourself as a chef?

TYLER PERRY, COMEDIAN: Well, I'm not doing that with you, Christopher Wallace.


WALLACE: With billions of infrastructure dollars to hand out, some say he's the most powerful Transportation secretary ever, and at age 40 Pete Buttigieg is also the youngest member of the Biden Cabinet, all of which may help explain why he's the most requested surrogate for Democratic candidates running in the midterm elections.


WALLACE: As you travel the country, what are the chances that Democrats will hold on to the House and the Senate?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, I can't get into the campaign side too much because I'm here in an official capacity but let me say this. We have a great story to tell as an administration and part of what I do, whether I'm in Washington or whether I'm out on the road is try to connect the dots between the decisions that the president has made, the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration, what we've been able to do working with partners in Congress, including by the way across the aisle whenever that's possible.

And what it actually means it's why that leads to a new airport terminal, a bridge that's been out of service for years finally being fixed. Things that are making a difference in people's lives along with good paying jobs. And I think that's a story we need to keep telling because as usual in politics, there's a lot of noise. There's a lot of negativity. There is a lot of effort to divide and to distract, and one of the things I love about my particular set of responsibilities in transportation is it's specific. It's concrete and it's an area where people understand what it means in their everyday lives.

WALLACE: It's interesting because facts are that voters are the biggest concern is the economy and inflation. Prices are up 8.2 percent over last year. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates 3 percentage points since March. Here is House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on all that.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): When you go to the store, eggs are higher. You've got milk higher. Your gasoline price is higher. It is the Democrat policies that brought them.


WALLACE: Question, why shouldn't voters hold the Democrats who were in control of the White House and the control of the House, control of the Senate, why shouldn't they hold you responsible?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, very simple. Because what we are doing is helping with the cost of living and because what House Republicans are proposing will hurt. What Kevin McCarthy and his colleagues have proposed is to strip away the Inflation Reduction Act. That would mean higher costs for prescription drugs. It would mean higher cost of energy.

We know that the cost of living and inflation is a challenge here in the U.S. just as it is around the world in the wake of COVID. But we also know that the measures we're taking to make life easier, to make budgets easier for American families is the right path and the other way, their way of more tax cuts for the wealthy. Economists believe that could actually make inflation worse.

Any time anybody wants to debate what to do about inflation, I'm here for that debate but we have heard nothing from the other side that is actionable.


WALLACE: Respectfully, sir, you have heard something which is that spending more than $3 trillion in federal spending at a time when demand so outstrips supply because of supply trend problems --

BUTTIGIEG: But hold on, right?


WALLACE: No, let me ask the question. That spending $3 trillion added, boosted demand, boosted inflation that the Inflation Reduction Act isn't going to actually reduce inflation for the next couple of years and that because you were so slow, you, the administration, the Federal Reserve, everybody, in terms of dealing with inflation, now you got to over correct and we're going to get a recession.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, look, the --

WALLACE: Is that a formula for success?

BUTTIGIEG: The investments in the Infrastructure Law are investments in the supply side. Yes, the issue is demand came back. People got back to work. There was money in Americans' pockets and supply struggled to keep up. All right. That's the basic root of the inflationary pressure that we have here. But a big part of why supply has struggled to keep up is, for example, on the transportation side, the fact that our supply chains and our transportation infrastructure has needed to be updated for years. So do we regret rescuing the American economy? No. Do we regret the actions that brought unemployment below 4 percent? No. Do we regret -- WALLACE: Do you regret 8 percent inflation?

BUTTIGIEG: Nobody likes inflation. The president has identified it as his top economic priority. But again I've heard nothing. Literally nothing by way of concrete proposals from the other side on what to do and what we're doing concretely is creating more breathing room for American families by cutting the costs of everything from energy to prescription drugs.

WALLACE: Let's talk about your day job as secretary of Transportation, and let's start small. We have some video we're going to put out there which I really enjoy.

This is you leaving a meeting at the White House by bicycle to go back to your department as the secretary of Transportation. Question, how often do you ride a bike around Washington?

BUTTIGIEG: You know, probably not as often as I should. I like to practice what I preach and I like to be on two wheels so, especially as we've gotten out of the kind of swampiest summer days, I try to be on the bike more often. I'd be lying if I said that's my daily compute, although it depends on the week.

WALLACE: And first of all people, is it a security issue? I mean, do you have people traveling with you as you go on a bike down the bike path?

BUTTIGIEG: I think it's a little unconventional for a security detail but they figure it out.

WALLACE: And do drivers ever look around to see the secretary of Transportation in the bike lane and honk?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I get some funny looks sometimes. But you know what else? Especially at one time when a -- I think it was a Cabinet meeting that I rode home from, I just stopped and wait for the security details' vehicles to catch up because at rush hour downtown Washington, D.C., you're actually quicker on a bike than you are in a car.

WALLACE: So what was your biggest surprise taking over Transportation? I know you've been the mayor of a city but this has got to have been a lot of new territory for you.

BUTTIGIEG: Certainly the range of what the department does. There is trains, planes, and automobiles, the kinds of things I would interact with the department on back when I was mayor. But we oversee the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, commercial space travel licensing. There are so many elements to what the department is in charge of. So obviously there are a lot of things to get on top of in this job.

The other thing that's different is just the nature of the federal interagency. When I was mayor, I understood all of the different corners of the administration that I led. It was small enough I could get my arms around it. Here, we spend a lot of time, I think anybody in federal service does, navigating our own organization because it can be so complex.

WALLACE: Have you studied traffic? The reason I ask this is, how many times have you driven along on a road and there is suddenly a backup and, you know, you crawl along for 10 or 15 minutes and then it starts to move and then it moves faster and there is no obvious thing, there was no accident. There was -- whatever. And I think to myself, why was that backup there? And I assume there's got to be a science to traffic?

BUTTIGIEG: Oh, yes, there is an entire science to this and we have a lot of research partners. We have our own research institutions, the Volpe Institute which is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And it's really interesting. I could geek out on this for a couple of hours if we had time. A lot of this -- I promise not to.

WALLACE: Please don't. That would be a bad traffic jam.

BUTTIGIEG: But a lot of it is just human nature. Human psychology. The fact that if even one of us gets distracted that can kind of cascade through us. The fact that we pause and look at something odd or an accident or something.

WALLACE: You're kind of a nerd, aren't you?

BUTTIGIEG: I love this stuff. I am. Yes. I mean, look, so many kids -- I think for a reason that I can't quite explain, from early childhood get just fascinated with anything related to transportation, right, trucks, cars, planes, trains, boats, all of that. I mean, you know, half the kids' books we had at home are about these kinds of things. So there is something I think very human about taking an interest in this.

WALLACE: What do you think of Elon Musk?

BUTTIGIEG: Very interesting guy. Very intelligent. Agree on some things, disagree on some other things.


But I'll say this, he's built a company that is the biggest maker of electric vehicles in the country and he handles a pretty big part of our space program now, too.

WALLACE: The reason I asked because it seems like the administration has had a somewhat contentious relationship with Elon Musk. He says that you guys should get out of the way when it comes to electric vehicles. Tax incentives are unnecessary. He's now under investigation by the Justice Department according to reports because supposedly he has made claims about his self-driving vehicles that may be exaggerated. And I wonder, I mean, is your feeling that he's a problem?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I mean, look, obviously, it's puzzling to say the least when you have a company that cooperates with the federal government, benefits from federal subsidies, and then later on you have leadership saying federal government should get out of the way and have nothing to do with this, but frankly that's happened a lot with people in the business world.

I try to really think of this in terms of calling balls and strikes. When an industry partner is helpful, we want to work with them. And when they're causing a problem or when they have gone on the wrong side of any kind of rule, then we have our enforcement responsibilities and we have to do both at the same time whether it's a high profile company or a company nobody has heard of, that's how we approach these things.


WALLACE: Up next, the man known as Secretary Pete gets real about his future and how becoming a parent has changed him.


BUTTIGIEG: I can't sing and I'm not much of a dancer, and so occasionally at 7:00 in the morning I'm asking myself what am I doing?




WALLACE: Pete Buttigieg became a household name in 2020 when he surprised many as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, crawling into a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Since then, he's been a highly visible Cabinet secretary, and taken on the role of new father. But his ambition for higher office is still there.


WALLACE: Do you still want to be president?

BUTTIGIEG: I wanted to be president enough to run for president, although I didn't ever run because it was a thing that I wanted to have. I ran because there was a moment where I thought what I had to offer matched what the moment called for. And that's how I think about running for office. I've used that process to run for office before and I've used that process, that decision process to decide not to run for office before.

And I know it sounds like the right thing to say politically, it is the right thing to say politically, it's also true that I don't know what the future looks like or whether those stars will ever align in the future. What I do know is I already have a job and it's a great job. We already have a president and I believe we have a great president, and I'm proud to be part of a team led by the president and the vice president.

WALLACE: But you're certainly not saying that the moment and the man might not match up again.

BUTTIGIEG: I'm not ruling out. I'm 40. You know, I don't know what is going to happen in the future. I do know that I've been entrusted with this amazing opportunity and responsibility to help shape the infrastructure we're going to be living with and working with and counting on for the rest of our lives.

WALLACE: There are figures, some substantial figure in the Democratic Party who say quite bluntly that Joe Biden should not run again for president in 2024. Let's listen to a few of them.


REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): We need a new generation. We need new blood. Period. Across the Democratic Party, in the House, the Senate and the White House.

MAX ROSE (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I do not think that Donald Trump should run in 2024. I do not think that Joe Biden should run in 2024. I'm sick and tired of that generation being in power. We've got to move on?


WALLACE: Are they wrong?

BUTTIGIEG: The decision is very much above my pay grade. There is one person who gets to make that decision. But what I will say is that this president, this administration have been repeatedly underestimated and have repeatedly delivered. I mean, it's hard to think of any period since FDR when there has been this much legislative success.

WALLACE: So you don't think there's a need for generational change?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, I belong to a generation that is very excited about the future, and I'm excited about having a lot of colleagues and partners from my generation who are on Capitol Hill, in Congress, in the administration but I also don't think any one generation has a monopoly on good ideas.

WALLACE: Can I bring up one last subject with you?


WALLACE: You and your husband Chasten, August of last year 2021, became the parents of twins, a little boy and a little girl, and at the height of the supply chain crisis, you took off two months of parental leave and you took some heavy fire about that from some Republicans.


REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): The guy was gone. OK? The guy was not working because why? He was trying to figure out how to chest feed.

DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: If you're the secretary of Transportation, you get your ass to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: I understand the benefits of parental leave. The question is, even for Cabinet secretaries dealing with crisis that affect the American family?

BUTTIGIEG: So first of all, I was always there to deal with anything that needed my attention. Secondly, I want to make very clear, I'm accustomed to working very, very hard, when I was mayor, in this job. When I was deployed to Afghanistan, before that when I was in business. I'm used to working very, very hard.

I have never worked as hard as I did during those weeks Chasten and I were taking care of our newborn premature infant twins. My workday started about 3:00 a.m. and it was beautiful, rewarding work. But there is this attitude that is still out there that parenting is not work, that it's some kind of vacation, and I think part of my responsibility include -- right alongside my professional and policy responsibilities, which I never set aside, part of my responsibility also is to send a message that our entire society should take parenting more seriously than moms and dads should both have an option for parental leave and should take it when it's available.


Let me also say that there were times when I left the ICU bedside with my son, fighting for his life, and went into another room and shut the door behind me and opened the laptop and set a background with a couple of flags so nobody in the Zoom was distracted by a background that was obviously a hospital room and got on with my job. I will put my work ethic against that of any of my critics any day.

WALLACE: Forget the politics. On a personal level, what are the biggest lessons from being the parents of these two precious little babies for the last year?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it changes you. It changes you in so many ways, and it adds just a dimension of joy to your life that I can't even describe. Things I can't believe -- for example, I don't -- I can't sing and I'm not much of a dancer, and so occasionally at 7:00 in the morning, I'm asking myself what am I doing, while I'm singing and dancing in order to keep my son entertained while he's eating his bananas just to, you know, get him kind of energized, you know, across the kitchen counter just thinking like, what is happening to me?

WALLACE: What do you sing?

BUTTIGIEG: So there is this song that once you hear it, it will never get out of your mind. It's part of this Eurovision, you know, the big music contest.

WALLACE: Yes. The big musical song contest.

BUTTIGIEG: "Give That Wolf a Banana." It's this absurd song that --

WALLACE: You want to give us a couple of bars of that?

BUTTIGIEG: For that you'll have to participate in breakfast time in our house.


BUTTIGIEG: Let's just say it's very catchy, our kids love it for whatever reason. And it became part of the breakfast ritual when I was trying to get the bananas, you know --

WALLACE: I thought you were going to say "Baby Shark" or something like that.

BUTTIGIEG: I'm sure that's next.


WALLACE: Coming up, one of Hollywood's most successful character actors Michael Imperioli takes us behind the scenes of "Goodfellas" and "The Sopranos."


MICHAEL IMPERIOLI, ACTOR: That's like going from college to play on the Yankees in the World Series or something, you know.




WALLACE: Welcome back to WHO'S TALKING.

Not every actor can say their first movie role was in a Martin Scorsese classic. Not every actor can say their most famous role was in one of the most popular TV shows ever. And now Michael Imperioli is checking into another hit show on our sister network HBO.


WALLACE: So your new role is starring in season two of the "White Lotus." You play a businessman named Dominic Di Grasso and you go to Sicily with your elderly father and your college grad son. Let's take a look.


F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, ACTOR: Flirting is one of the pleasures of life.

IMPERIOLI: You're 80 years old.

ABRAHAM: But the women I desire remain young. You can relate to that.

IMPERIOLI: I just want to go inform you that my good friends here, they're going to be visiting me this week. Coming and going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They come and go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See you later. Bye.



WALLACE: Well, that looks like fun.

IMPERIOLI: Lots of fun, yes, lots of fun.

WALLACE: So who is Dominic? What's his story?

IMPERIOLI: Dominic is a Hollywood producer and studio exec. His marriage is falling apart basically because of his sex addiction. His marriage is about to kind of end. You know, his wife was supposed to be on the trip with him and his daughter and they've decided not to come, and he's at a very difficult place in his life.

WALLACE: How big a draw was it for you that the entire show was shot in Sicily?



IMPERIOLI: That's huge draw. That was one of the -- when they said that shooting in Sicily, it's like OK.

WALLACE: Is your family from Sicily?

IMPERIOLI: A tiny slice of my family is. Most of my family is from Rome and --


IMPERIOLI: The surrounding part of Rome, yes.

WALLACE: So speaking of family, your dad was a bus driver.


WALLACE: Your mom worked in a public school.


WALLACE: And I'm told that on the night before you were headed to college, the night before, to go start premed that you tell your parents I can't do it. I want to be an actor. First of all, is that true? And secondly, if so, how did they react?

IMPERIOLI: It's totally true. I think they knew that I did have an interest in acting. Part of me -- because I was going to go to state university in Albany. Part of me really wanted to be in New York City in Manhattan. I just felt like I belonged there and part of me really said I wanted to go to one of the better acting schools, you know.

WALLACE: And they didn't give you grief or push back? IMPERIOLI: No, no, I think they kind of knew that that's where I was

headed anyway, and they always have been very, very supportive. I'm fortunate in that respect.

WALLACE: Well, it worked out because at the age of 23 you get a small part in the Martin Scorsese classic mob movie "Goodfellas" where you play a kid named Spider.

IMPERIOLI: Yes. Yes. Well.

WALLACE: Let's take a look.


IMPERIOLI: You wanted a drink.

JOE PESCI, ACTOR: I just asked you for a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) drink.

IMPERIOLI: No, I thought you said that you're all ice.

PESCI: No, no, no. No, no, no. What do you got me on (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

IMPERIOLI: No, because (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I thought I heard someone say something, spider, spider, I thought --


PESCI: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Mumbling, stuttering little (EXPLETIVE DELETED)., You know that?


PESCI: Now, he's moving.



WALLACE: "Now, he's moving." So first of all, how much did you want to be in a Martin Scorsese film?

MICHAEL IMPERIOLI, ACTOR: Oh, very, very much. So if you're an Italian-American kid who wants to be an actor and you live in New York, I mean, that's Scorsese and De Niro. This was 1989 when we shot it. That was -- you know, that's like going from college to play on the Yankees in the World Series or something, you know.

WALLACE: And I've got to ask you about that, because there you are, Scorsese is behind the camera, but they're on the set with you in that scene.

Joe Pesci is not very fond of you. Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta -- I mean that has got to have been -- I would think, on the one hand intimidating, and on the other hand thrilling. IMPERIOLI: The stakes were really high, but Marty made me feel so comfortable from the moment I met him and the moment I got there. He made me feel like I belonged there and I was an actor.

I had been studying and trying to get work for, at that point, six years, you know, so I wasn't like coming out of nowhere. It meant a lot, and I worked really hard and prepared myself really well.

And most of what you see is all improvised, which is even more a testament to how trusting he is of actors, especially young actors, working with legends here, you know, and allowing them to just be free to say what they want and respond how they want to respond. It is pretty, pretty amazing.

WALLACE: And the Big Three there, were they nice to you or did they just ignore you?


WALLACE: Like you're the kid...


WALLACE: ... in the scene?

IMPERIOLI: No, they were very nice, but we didn't -- I didn't engage in a lot of chitchat. I didn't want to talk to -- the last thing I wanted to do was talk to them about acting because I knew that's not what they wanted to hear.

WALLACE: But Michael, you still didn't get Joe Pesci his drink.

IMPERIOLI: Well, that's why without there is no scene.

WALLACE: That's exactly --

IMPERIOLI: Yes. That's the whole thing.

WALLACE: There you go.

IMPERIOLI: And then I want -- you know, the crazy thing is I wouldn't want to go to the hospital on the second scene, do you know that? What happen to me?

The second scene I get killed, right?

WALLACE: Yes. Right.

IMPERIOLI: So, I'm walking over to the table.


IMPERIOLI: And I have squibs, blood packs.


IMPERIOLI: You know, right, which they set off remotely.

WALLACE: Right. And

IMPERIOLI: I'm supposed to go flying back into the bar and hit the ground, three bullet holes, and they have a stunt double. I said, "No, I want to do my own stunt."

Now, I don't do my own stunts anymore. I'm perfectly happy for the stuntman to do his job, but back then, I was very gung-ho about doing everything.

So, I do the stunt. The squibs go off. The blood packs go. I hit the bar. They pad me up. I fall on the ground, and the glass in my hand shatters and slices open two of my fingers really badly.

So, I'm on the ground, I look up and I see Robert De Niro looking down at me, like, you know, like, it looked really bad, and I'm like, "Oh, man."

I was afraid to look at my hand and like, "We've got to get you to a hospital." So we go to the hospital. The production assistant drives me and I walk in, and I see like an orderly or a ER nurse coming at me like with his eyes open. I said, "Yes, I'm doing a movie with Robert De Niro. I cut my hand." They go, "Cold blue." You know, "STAT. Get somebody -- get a..." whatever. They start saying all these things that I don't understand.

I said, no, look, cut my -- they go, "Sir, calm down." I'm like, "No, I'm in a movie." Like yes, sure you're in a movie because I have three bullet holes in my chest and it's Queens, it is New York. They think I'm about to die?

You know, then they think I'm delirious talking about Robert De Niro. So, they put me on a stretcher, wheel me into trauma and I'm telling them what's happening. They won't listen to me.

Finally, they start going into my shirt and see all the squib and the wires. I said, "I told you, I'm doing the movie. I cut my fingers," like "Oh, okay, have a seat. We will be with you in..."

WALLACE: You had to wait three damn hours.

IMPERIOLI: Literally, two hours later, they stitched me up and I go back and do three more takes, but I think the take in the movie is the first take.


WALLACE: When we come back, Michael has more great stories you don't want to miss, including how his first day on "The Sopranos" was almost his last.

And later I ask, media mogul, Byron Allen how this moment as a teenage comedian on "The Tonight Show" changed everything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BYRON ALLEN, MEDIA MOGUL: I'm on a team with my best friend, right, my best friend is like half Black, half Jewish. Abdullah Steinberg.

Buys Afro Sheen wholesale.




WALLACE: Michael Imperioli is best known for playing Tony Soprano's troubled heir apparent in "The Sopranos." A role that won him Emmy he later threw away. Don't worry, you'll hear about that.

But we started with his first day on the job.


WALLACE: There you are with a great James Gandolfini.


TONY SOPRANO, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: You want to get caught, it should have been [bleep] cowboy. You want to be a big bad guy, Christopher?


SOPRANO: Shut up.

MOLTISANTI: Can I try and explain to you? I don't know, Tony. It's like just a [bleep] regularness of life is too hard for me. So, I don't -- I don't know.


WALLACE: Do you remember that scene?


WALLACE: That scene?

IMPERIOLI: I do remember that scene. I like that scene a lot.

WALLACE: So you know, we've talked about going from college ball to the Yankees. You're playing with Joe DiMaggio here.


IMPERIOLI: Yes, but oddly, you know I didn't know Jim or his work when I got the job. So it wasn't -- he wasn't like the star he became, you know what I mean? He was another character actor, like pretty much everybody on the show.

I knew most of that cast from other things. WALLACE: And when did you realize this is --

IMPERIOLI: You know, we clicked right away, you know. The first day of work, I had to drive him. I didn't have a driver's license, you know, but I didn't tell anybody that because I wanted the job, because Christopher's job was to drive, Tony, right?

But Michael didn't know how to drive, but I'm like, "Well, how hard could it be? It's a movie." You know what I mean? It's a TV show.

WALLACE: It's still a car.

IMPERIOLI: And I wound up crashing the car. Right? I had to drive backwards down the sidewalk with trees on both sides and extras running out of the way, delivering dialogue to Tony Soprano looking forward -- I mean, that's hard to do even if you know how to drive, which I do know.

I did it like four times. The fifth time, boom, right into the tree. The airbags go off. Jim's head snaps -- first day I met the guy. There's smoke, people are running. And I'm like, "They're going to fire me, man. This is really bad."

And I look over and he is laughing hysterically.

Jim loved when the wheels fell off. You know what I mean?

WALLACE: In season five, you accused Tony of sleeping with your fiancee, Adriana.


WALLACE: And he decides, he's going to whack you.



MOLTISANTI: You lied to me? You were scoring coke with her. She admitted it.

SOPRANO: So what? I can't relieve stress every once a while, I don't get enough [bleep] problems.

MOLTISANTI: You send me to North Carolina so you can my [bleep] girlfriend?

SOPRANO: What kind of [bleep] do you think I am? The thought never even entered my head.


WALLACE: Okay, so there's good news coming out of this scene. One, Tony backs off, he doesn't kill you. Two, you win an Emmy for your work that season including that episode and then you throw your Emmy in the garbage? IMPERIOLI: It was more of a symbolic gesture. So, we won the Emmy, Drea de Matteo and I won that year for Supporting Actor and Actress, and the show for the first time won Best Show after five seasons.


IMPERIOLI: It did not win Best Show until that year. So everyone was in a good mood.

And we -- you know, we went to the Governor's Ball and the HBO party, and then we had our own party at the hotel and wound up in someone's room and it's like, five in the morning. And my wife, you know, she said to me, you know, "I bet you're very proud of yourself, huh? You know, you have people congratulating you, making a big deal over you, fussing over you, kissing your ass." She goes, "I'm not impressed."

She said, "If you had any balls, you take that statue and throw it in the garbage." I didn't want to do that, but I had to show you know, some bravado. I said, "I don't care about that." I took it. Like, this is you know, the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, the trash can. So you know, it wasn't like I went into, you know --

WALLACE: A garbage can out on --

IMPERIOLI: Into a compost thing and stuffed it in.

So, I took it and put it in the garbage pail in the hotel room. And then we went to sleep, and then I woke up and I said I'm ordering some breakfast. She said, "Yes, get me --" you know, "Order me something. Get some coffee." And she said, "Don't forget to take your Emmy out of the garbage can."

WALLACE: So the final season, you get in a bad car accident and Tony decides, he now is going to take you out.


WALLACE: I mean --

IMPERIOLI: Pretty amazing, yes.

WALLACE: I mean, it has such power, such -- so, here's the question. I know it is season seven. The show is going to be -- the series is about to end anyway, but did that -- I kind of think that still hurt.



IMPERIOLI: Not at all. No. No. It would have hurt if it was season three. Definitely. But by then we were at the finish line. You know, or almost at the finish line. So, it was -- I thought it was a really -- and David told me about it about a year before, I think, how it was going to go down. I thought it was a brilliant way to, you know, for both characters, you know, to close their relationship in that way because it really showed where Tony had gone. WALLACE: How far he'd fallen.

IMPERIOLI: How far Tony --

WALLACE: And how isolated he felt, but basically, he kills you because he thinks you're going to end up flipping on him like a lot of other people.


IMPERIOLI: Yes. Which may very well have happened, who knows because Christopher, by then, was really struggling with, you know, heroin addiction, which we all know is really destructive and really, you know, dangerous and you know --

By that, if you're that far gone, anything can happen, you know? But I thought it was a really, really cool way to end their relationship.

WALLACE: Any doubt in your mind what the ending meant?

IMPERIOLI: You know, I've gone back and forth. I still don't know. I always thought he died, right, so it is the last --

WALLACE: For folks who may not know, the three of you who didn't watch it, he's in a diner with his family and the music playing, "Don't Stop Believing," and suddenly, it goes to black.

IMPERIOLI: It goes to black. But then if you think because there's this guy in a "Members Only" jacket who walks, goes in, goes to the bathroom, and then he sits at the kind. Someone is going to do a hit, he is not going to stay around that long. That doesn't make sense, that theory.

And then it's like -- and then I thought, maybe it's just what you see is what you get. That's the end of the story. There's no dying. There is no what if, there is no what happened to Tony, it just ends right there. I don't know. It's mysterious.

People ask me that all the time, you know, this is a show --

WALLACE: I have got to think that's question number one.

IMPERIOLI: That's question number one. This is 15 years down the road.


WALLACE: Coming up, the man who says bluntly, he wants to own the biggest media company in the world.



WALLACE: My next guest has been breaking barriers his whole life. The youngest comedian to appear on "The Tonight Show." The first African- American to own a 24-hour news network. Byron Allen's story of how he went from comic to media mogul is fascinating and that is where our conversation begins.

Let's start in 1979.


WALLACE: You're 18 years old. You're still in high school. And this is what you're up to.


ALLEN: I'm on the team with my best friend, right? My best friend is like half Black, half Jewish. Abdullah Steinberg. He buys Afro Sheen wholesale.

He wears his yarmulke tilted to the side.


WALLACE: You were the youngest comic to get a standup slot on "The Tonight Show" for Johnny Carson. How on earth did that happen?

ALLEN: Wow, that was 44 years ago. That's insane. I had hair then, clearly.

You know, I started doing stand-up comedy when I was 14 years old at The Comedy Store and it was great. They had Monday night try out, and one night, James McCauley saw me, Johnny Carson's talent coordinator. He offered me the show, I was 17 at the time, and I turned him down. And my mother said, "Why? Why did you turn him down?" I said, "You know what? I'm not doing this just to do it one time. This is a -- it's a marathon, not a sprint."

And so I did it a couple of weeks before I graduated from high school, and it was a lot of fun. I had a great time.

WALLACE: Let's talk about your mom, because she was a tour guide at the NBC Studios in Burbank.


WALLACE: And for a while, I think around the time that you're 13, you would hang out at the studios after school because your mom couldn't afford childcare. And is it true that you would wait in the parking lot for Johnny Carson to arrive?

ALLEN: Oh, yes. I would wait. I would go from studio to studio. I would watch -- I would watch Bob Hope do his specials and I would watch Red Fox tape Sanford & Son. Then I go across the hall and watch Flip Wilson do "The Flip Wilson Show" and I'd watch Freddie Prinze and Jack Albertson do their show, and Johnny Carson tape his show.

And I used to go and wait for him to pull into his parking spot, and I'd say hello, "Mr. Carson. Good to see you." And probably over a three or four-year period, he got to know my name and say "Thank you, Byron," because I would give him feedback on his jokes. I'd say, "I liked that joke last night. That was very funny what you said the other night, Mr. Carson. This was funny." And he appreciated that.

And I would always just made sure I wasn't stalking him, but I was close by. We had a good time.

WALLACE: All right, folks may also remember you because you used to travel the country doing offbeat stories for a show that got to be quite popular called "Real People" on NBC eight o'clock on Wednesday nights. Let's take a look.


ALLEN: Would you mind telling me what you're doing?


ALLEN: Ever since high school, Dennis entertained thousands of people and party goers around Utah with a walking and whistling belly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Feeling that he is a watch dog.

ALLEN: Yes, can you imagine breaking in and looking at this?

All I knew was that I was more shook than that zebra.


WALLACE: So at what point, Byron, and it may have been the point when you were writing the Bucking Bronco and it may have been the point at which, whatever that is, bull, or it may have been the point at which you're upside down in the plane -- at what point did you realize that you were more interested in being in the business side of show business than the show side of show business?

ALLEN: You know, I realized early on that it was not show business, it was business show and I had to juxtapose those two words and really study the business and approach it as a business and that's when everything changed for me.

But I also realized I didn't control my destiny and I wanted to have control over my destiny. So, I made it a point to get to know all the people who owned and operated the television stations around the country and all the major advertisers, and I knew if I brought those two together, I could do as many shows as I wanted.


WALLACE: Okay, so let's fast forward to now.

you are now the chairman and the sole owner of the Allen Media Group. Let's tick off some of the assets for folks that may not be familiar with the Allen Media Group.

How many television stations have you got around the country? ALLEN: I think I have about 27 -- ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates around the country. So I own the ABC affiliate in Hawaii and the NBC affiliate in Tucson and on and on and on. So, that's a great business. We love that.

WALLACE: How many cable channels and streaming platforms do you have?

ALLEN: I think I have about 14 cable networks at this point and probably half a dozen streaming assets, TheGrio, Local Now, The Weather Channel streaming app, direct to the consumer, The Weather Channel in Espanol.

The cable networks, we have, you know, everything from to Justice Central to The Weather Channel. It's one of the largest privately held media companies in the world.

WALLACE: Can you put a dollar figure to all of that?

ALLEN: Well, it is worth billions. I mean, it brings in quite a bit of money. It is privately held. I'm very fortunate the company is -- it is worth quite a bit.

WALLACE: In 2015 --


WALLACE: After the riots in Baltimore, after Freddie Gray died in police custody, the President called out the people who looted the streets and called them criminals and thugs.

ALLEN: That's right. That's right.

WALLACE: And here is what you said. You said this: "President Obama is at this point a White president in blackface?"

ALLEN: That's right.

WALLACE: "Black America would have done much better with a White President."

ALLEN: That's right. Right.

WALLACE: Barack Obama, a White President in blackface?

ALLEN: That's exactly right. I said that and I still stand by that. And what I said was very loud and clear, he criticized those young Black kids in Baltimore for the wrongful death of Freddie Gray.

WALLACE: No, no, he didn't -- he criticized them because they looted the stores.

ALLEN: Okay. They looted the stores, and what I said to them is, I am not condoning violence, but before you criticize them, position them to succeed, not fail. Don't criticize them until you give them a proper education.

WALLACE: Yes, but wait --

ALLEN: Let me just --

WALLACE: You're in the middle of a riot. You can't sit there and change society.

ALLEN: I understand. But Chris, you've got to understand something. Why are they positioned like this? You need to address the bigger issue. These kids are sitting there and they're positioned to fail. No proper education, no jobs, no economic inclusion. And by the way, it was the wrongful death.

And at a certain point, you have to understand people are speaking out because they are being abused. This is genocide. It's just a slow genocide, but it is genocide.

WALLACE: So are you and former President Obama in contact with each other?

ALLEN: We're not in contact, but I have all the respect in the world for him, Listen, you have to understand something. The President of the United States is nothing more than temporary hired help. That person is there to serve us and to work for us and you have to constantly remind them, you're here because I need you to take care of something.

WALLACE: I want to bring this full circle.

ALLEN: Sure.

WALLACE: Because I read somewhere that you said, there's a connection, a transferable skill between being a comedian and being a big businessman.

ALLEN: That's right.

WALLACE: You know, a comedian has to be able to read the room and a businessman has to be able to look and see business opportunities.

ALLEN: You know, I think a lot of the same skills I use as a comedian I use in business, just being honest, and being open, transparent. People are comfortable with you.

And I have a mission and that mission was clear. You know, when Martin Luther King was assassinated in April of '68, it was -- that was something that was quite traumatic for the whole country and I got to know Martin Luther King's widow, the true queen of America, Coretta Scott King, and she taught me a lot.

And she said to me, you know, Byron, as Black people in this country, we have four major challenges. Number one, end slavery; number two, end Jim Crow; number three, achieve Civil Rights, and then she choked up and she said, and number four, the real reason they killed my Martin, achieve economic inclusion.

And she said Byron, they didn't kill my Martin over the speech, "I Have a Dream. They killed him over the speech he gave in February of '68 at Stanford University, "The Other America" where he said there are two Americas and one America has access to opportunity, education, and economic inclusion, and the other America doesn't. There are two Americas and one America will not survive.

And from that point on, I decided that I was going to dedicate my life to building the world's greatest media company to help effectuate change for the greater good and to achieve one America.


WALLACE: Byron Allen also told me about his failed bid for an NFL team and why no surprise, he is more determined than ever to buy another one you.

Can catch my full interview with Byron, as well as more of our sit- downs with Pete Buttigieg and Michael Imperioli anytime you want on HBO Max.

Thank you for watching and please join us here on CNN every Sunday night to find out WHO'S TALKING next.