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CNN NEWSROOM

Top Kill Results; Hopper and Coleman Die; Pacific Hurricane Season Begins With Tropical Storm Agatha, And It Is Headed For Storm Battered Guatemala

Aired May 29, 2010 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, the jury is still out on top kill. BP has been pumping a mud-like substance into that ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico for three days now. The company's chief operating officer admits the process has not worked completely yet, but he says it is still too early to actually give up.

CNN's Carol Costello has more on the Gulf Coast oil spill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Doug Suttles from BP held a 15-minute news conference to answer questions from reporters. When all is said and done, he said the top kill procedure, well he doesn't know if it is working or not.

They're assessing the situation right now. He was not able to tell us whether the actual pumping be of that mud into the pipe has stopped. So they can assess. He couldn't tell us that. He also couldn't tell us when exactly they would know if this procedure will really work.

DOUG SUTTLES, BP: To date it hasn't yet stopped the flow. I mean, that's what I do know. What I don't know is if it ultimately will or not. I mean, what we're going to do is as I said is we're going to keep at this until we either believe we see it work or we believe it won't work.

COSTELLO: BP told us it has a plan B and they're already working on that in case the top kill procedure does not work. In the meantime, they're gathering more volunteers, and paid workers to prevent the oil from washing up on shore in case that happens and you'll see those kinds of operations ratchet up even more in the coming days.

Carol Costello, CNN, Grand Isle, Louisiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Hundreds of workers showed up to clean the Louisiana coast yesterday. Just before President Barack Obama arrived. But the independent contractor who provided the workers insist that it was not planned but it was merely a coincidence.

BP hired Donald Notty's company to clean oil from Grand Isle, where the president met with reporters but Notty tells CNN that the cleanup was planned several days in advance and he had no idea the president was coming.

All right. BP's safety history is marked with frequent violations and fines. Last year, OSHA hit BP with its largest fine ever, $87 million. And of all the violations, OSHA hands out to oil refineries, 97 percent actually go to BP. So how does BP continue to hold permits and drilling rights with the record that OSHA's own reports call egregious and willful?

We turn to David Uhlmann, he is the director of environmental law and policy at the University of Michigan. So for seven years he was also the country's top environmental crimes prosecutor. Good to see you.

DAVID UHLMANN, DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY, UNIV. OF MICHIGAN: Nice to be here.

WHITFIELD: So how does this happen? Does it mean anything that you would have so many violations or so many fines to pay, wouldn't the penalty be perhaps you would no longer be granted permits or access to certain locales?

UHLMANN: Well, there has been a significant history of violations at BP. But the government continues to contract with BP and they don't withhold permits because they're such an important part of the economy both in the region and in the nation and frankly in the world.

WHITFIELD: Then why be imposed a citation at all, if it means nothing?

UHLMANN: Oh, I didn't say it means nothing. You know, when the Texas City incident which occurred a few years ago, a tragic situation -

WHITFIELD: 2005.

UHLMANN: 15 people killed.

Correct. You know, BP paid a $50 million criminal fine. So that means something.

WHITFIELD: But I guess the, you know, when it pertains to a fine, there should be, what, when there is a violation and when there is a penalty, that may act as some sort of deterrent. But if even that fine may sound like a lot of money to the average layman when you're talking about $400 million that, you know, that company may earn or take home in a week, it really is a drop in the bucket. So what would be the incentive for BP to, you know, play by the rules or perhaps not carry out egregious or willful incidents?

UHLMANN: Well, I don't think a $50 million fine in the Texas City case was a drop in the bucket. That was the third largest fine ever imposed for environmental crime. And in the gulf oil spill, we're going to see a much, much larger criminal fine. And it won't be a drop in the bucket either.

WHITFIELD: What sort of charges do you suppose would be imposed as it comes to a criminal investigation or criminal fines or criminal - or crimes that might be imposed against BP? UHLMANN: Well, I think in terms of a fine, we, the best example we have of a prior case like this is the Exxon Valdez. And Exxon paid $125 million criminal fine for that oil spill, which was 20 years ago. I would expect that BP will be paying much more than $125 million because this is an even worse oil spill, it comes 20 years later, and BP has a significant history of violations that Exxon did not.

WHITFIELD: And those criminal charges that might be imposed against BP, might that also set the tone or perhaps be a prelude to what civil charges might be imposed against BP as well?

UHLMANN: Yes, I think we'll see both criminal and civil penalties sought against BP as a result of this oil spill. And possibly against the other companies involved in the oil spill as well. Remember, it is not just BP that is involved in this case.

But I would expect both criminal and civil penalties, the two combined in the Exxon case were $1.1 billion and here again I would expect the number for the gulf oil spill to be significantly higher.

WHITFIELD: And when do you suppose these charges will start to be rolled out? What would be the expectation for this legal road?

UHLMANN: Well, I suspect the criminal investigation is already well under way. And there is probably also civil attorneys working, working on a potential civil penalty action.

But right now, the government, I think, quite properly is focused on what we should - could call the emergency response, getting the oil spill into the gulf stopped, and trying to do everything they can to limit the damage that is occurring to the gulf and to the communities along the gulf.

So it may be some time before we actually hear about criminal actions or civil actions.

WHITFIELD: And, of course, the expectation will be BP will say, well, we didn't intend for this to happen, this is strictly an accident. And so that, that at the very least, will be part of their defense.

UHLMANN: Definitely. BP is going to say nobody wanted this to happen, least of all our company, we have taken a terrible, you know, paid a terrible price for this. They're obviously responsible for all the cleanup costs, which are going to run into the billions of dollars. Their reputation has taken a serious hit.

But under the environmental laws, that's not a very good defense. And in fact in recent days there have been a number of news reports suggesting this may not have been an accident at all

WHITFIELD: David Uhlmann, thanks so much, director of environmental law and policy at the University of Michigan. Thanks so much for your time.

UHLMANN: You're very welcome. WHITFIELD: All right. Much like the growing oil slick in the gulf, BP's image is an open target right now. Can it rescue its eco- friendly brand? We'll take a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Companies spend millions of dollars developing an eco-friendly image, right? Well, the oil leak has seriously damaged BP's image. So how do they dig themselves out of this hole? Let's bring in our Susan Candiotti who is joining us now from New York. Susan, BP's leafy green logo is like the gulf right now, it is coated in muck.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what some people are certainly saying. You know, it won't be easy to win back trust when the oil giant is being blamed for causing the leak to begin with.

So now they have a pair of nightmares on their hands, some crisis experts say at this point, they have got a catastrophe on their hands, and after all, they downplayed the disaster to begin with and were even glib about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BP, you can have your oil back!

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): BP's crumbling environmentally friendly image is taking yet another pounding. Demonstrators in New York mocking the company by covering themselves in fake oil.

BRIAN DOBSON, PRES., DOBSON COMMUNICATIONS, INC.: A foreign oil company on our shores doing damage to our coast, to our nation, that's the image that they have got to try to correct.

CANDIOTTI: PR crisis expert Brian Dobson says BP dug its own hole early on in part by calling the spill, "relatively tiny compared to a big ocean."

DOBSON: To call the spill tiny relative to the oceans is ridiculous. That's totally irrelevant. This is the CEO of a company who is spewing oil off of the biggest customer on the globe, off the coast of the U.S., the number one consumer of energy.

CANDIOTTI: Time and again, BP's boss has been asked to defend earlier statements downplaying the spill.

TONY HAYWARD, BP CEO: The time that I made the statement we clearly had not had any oil on the shore and we were doing everything we could to contain the oil offshore and to defend the shoreline. A cup of oil on the shore is failure. And in that regard we have failed to defend the shoreline to the degree and extent that we believe we could.

CANDIOTTI: BP also came under fire for not telling anyone that the top kill procedure was temporarily stopped on its first night, and for its performance at town hall meetings. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) by the EPA?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That I need to check on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they pre-testing the soil, the current conditions of soils in that area before they start doing the decontamination process?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm going to have to get back to you on that one as well.

CANDIOTTI: CNN affiliate WEAR reports that BP spokesperson now has been let go and the latest blowup, BP's being accused of bussing in cleanup workers in time for President Obama's Friday visit. And who left when the president did. One Louisiana politician called it a "dog and pony show."

A BP spokesman downplayed the claim saying the workers were following a normal schedule.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: So what's next? Well, as one PR expert says, be open, be transparent and be willing to spend as much money as it takes to clean up its mess in order to win back its once and future customers. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Susan Candiotti, thanks so much, joining us from New York.

All right, one of Hollywood's infamous bad boys of the golden age has died. 74-year-old actor Dennis Hopper rode to fame in such films as "Easy Rider" and "Rebel Without A Cause." He was infamous for his outlandish behavior as well as his public battles with drugs and alcohol.

His erratic career spans some six decades. Hopper says he relished playing misfits and villains. His co-stars were tinseltown legends. James Dean, John Wayne, Jack Nicholson and Paul Newman.

In recent years, Hopper suffered health problems, most notably prostate cancer. Dennis Hopper is dead at the age of 74.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories right now, thousands of protesters are lining the streets of Phoenix today voicing outrage over Arizona's controversial crackdown on illegal immigration. Organizers say as many as 50,000 demonstrators from around the country are expected. Critics say the law unfairly targets Hispanics and could lead to racial profiling. Supporters of the law are holding their own rally tonight.

And Hollywood is mourning the loss of Gary Coleman. The chubby- cheeked wise-cracking former child star from the TV show "Different Strokes" died yesterday at the age of 42. He suffered a brain hemorrhage after an accident at his Utah home. Coleman tried to escape the legacy of his childhood career, but his life was dogged by legal and health problems.

And overseas to Baghdad now where Iraqi police have arrested two clever bank robbers. They allegedly stole $5.5 million without even using a gun. Police say the thieves spiked the bank guards' tea with a sleeping drug. While two suspects are in custody so far, none of the money has actually been recovered.

All right, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the roguish lead in "The Prince of Persia, Sands of Time," which is opening this weekend. He has been adding to his string of box office create credits since he captured audience attention during "October Sky." But some are calling the choice of Gyllenhaal as another case of Hollywood whitewash.

Kareen Wynter explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Persian warrior with powers over the elements. Proteges with power over the elements. These are Hollywood's newest heroes. They were conceived originally as ethnic characters, but transferred to the big screen, the roles all went to white actors. Some critics like Guy Aoki of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans are calling that a Hollywood whitewash.

GUY AOKI, MEDIA ACTION NETWORK FOR ASIAN AMERICANS: It sends a terrible message to our children that you cannot be heroes in your own stories, that white people have to play you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is no ordinary dagger.

WYNTER: In "Prince of Persia" based on a video game set in ancient Iran, Jake Gyllenhaal plays the title character. In fact, none of the principle roles went to actors of Middle Eastern descent. Criticism in the Iranian-American community has largely been mute, with many praising distributor Disney for bringing a Persian story to the screen.

MAYAR ZOKAEI, EDITORIAL CONSULTANT, "JAVANAO" MAGAZINE: The initial reaction is it is a positive thing.

WYNTER: But Mayar Zokei editorial consultant to an American-Iranian magazine still questions the producer's casting choices.

ZOKEI: It seem like they were just, you know, British actors or non- Iranian actors were thrown in there. There is plenty of Iranian actors out there that could have been at their disposal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the last of your kind.

WYNTER: Another summer blockbuster is provoking outrage among some Asian-American groups.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can still win the day.

WYNTER: "The Last Air Bender" is based on a cartoon set in a world inhabited solely by Asians and inwit. But when it came time to cast the three heroes, paramount picked white actors. Aoki is calling for a boycott of the film.

AOKI: The three white characters - actors that they hire are total unknowns. These are amateur actors. So they could have hired an amateur Asian-American actor just the same. We don't think that this kind of discriminatory behavior should be rewarded.

WYNTER: In a statement to CNN, Paramount said "the movie has 23 credited speaking roles, more than half of which feature Asian and Pan Asian actors of Korean, Japanese and Indian descent. One of those actors of Indian descent is Dev Patel, who plays the anti-hero.

Aoki says this sends a clear message to non-whites.

AOKI: You can be the villain, you can be in the background with your little ethnic costumes, but that's all.

WYNTER: Decades ago, Hollywood routinely cast white stars in Asian roles. Consider Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and John Wayne as Genghis Khan.

Aoki says the only difference now is that Hollywood has learned not to slap white stars in yellow face.

AOKI: They don't bother putting makeup on them to make them look Asian.

WYNTER: Others reject the notion that movie should be cast according to an actor's ethnicity of background, including British native Ben Kingsley who plays a Persian villain opposite Gyllenhaal.

BEN KINGSLEY, ACTOR: If we absolutely restricted Romeo and Juliet to be only people played from an Italian town Carpadua (ph), you'll never get the play on. You'll never get the play on in 100 years, you know, and also the privilege of being in "Schindler's List" as someone who is not Jewish but has a massive empathy for European Jews, should that exclude us from working? We're actors.

WYNTER: It's a debate that will extend well beyond the summer box office season. Kareen Wynter, CNN, Hollywood.

WHITFIELD: All right. For "The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time," with Jake Gyllenhaal, thumbs up or thumbs down? Let's find out from film critic from "What A Flick" on the youngturks.com and host of "Turner Classic Movies" Ben Mankiewicz who joining us right now from Los Angeles.

OK, what do you say about this? I'm asking you a lot. Not only what do you think about the movie as a whole but Jake as one of the leading men?

BEN MANKIEWICZ, HOST, "TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES": Well, first of all, I actually thought Jake Gyllenhaal makes a pretty interesting action hero. He's a pretty charming guy, he sort of doesn't - he's not cut out of the typical action hero-mold. He's got a little sparkle in his eyes.

You know, and some of the action scenes fall into the typical 3G stuff. But I actually like Gyllenhaal in this. And I think both sides by the way some of the action is 3G stuff. But I actually like Gyllenhaal in this. And I think both sides, by the way, in this debate, there is certainly validity to it. Obviously this movie is a big blockbuster here in the summer.

It is not going to get made with an unknown star. That said, Disney could, of course, chose to make a different movie. But if you're going to make this movie, it is going to have a big star in it and that's one of the sacrifices made. I think Ben Kingsley makes a totally valid point. But obviously there is validity in pointing out that we keep year after year, decade after decade, casting non-ethnic stars in these ethnic roles.

Anthony Quinn, I think, played just about every ethnicity known to man during his long and storied and successful career.

WHITFIELD: OK. And so your letter grade is a C, average.

MANKIEWICZ: Yes. That said this movie sort of is - you know, it delivered sort of what you expect it to. Actually there were a couple of twists I didn't see coming. It was fine. I liked Jake Gyllenhaal in the role, as a performance, leaving out his ethnicity. I thought he delivered.

WHITFIELD: OK. a lot of folks are VERY excited about this being "Sex and the City," number two, part duo this weekend. Well, tell me a little bit about the story line on this before we get a chance to actually see it.

MANKIEWICZ: All right, well, I mean -

WHITFIELD: Seeing the trailers, I kind of feel like I get it but I think you're a lot more poetic than what the trailer is.

MANKIEWICZ: Hey, you're the first girl - first woman to ever say I was poetic. Thank you very much.

You know, it is Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. It picks up two years after the movie, it is their continuing story and their you know, the next step that happens in their life. And Carrie is sort of struggling oddly enough. She's the one who is struggling in her marriage to Big. And they go on a big trip to Abu Dhabi and that's essentially all that happens.

If you care about the story, if you care about these characters, and, look, I do, I watched the series, I've seen every episode, I care about these characters. The mistake that happens in this movie, and I think it is a very significant mistake is the women who love these characters, they, well, they care about the fashion, everybody cares about the fashion and the shoes, but they care about the characters first and foremost and I think this movie gets lost in the fashion and the shoes and the shopping and forgets about the friendship. That's the most important thing. The characters become caricatures. So I didn't like it. I don't think anybody is going to like it but it is going to make a ton of money.

WHITFIELD: Oh, man. Maybe we should like hear a little bit, a sneak peek, shall we?

MANKIEWICZ: Sure. Let's fire away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been told that I'm a likable guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: That's not it. OK. We're getting ahead of ourselves. OK, so much for "Sex and the City." We'll just have to watch the trailers. So let's talk about this one. "Survival of the Dead" now as we look and listen a little bit, kind of creepy.

MANKIEWICZ: Yes. That is -

WHITFIELD: Is this funny?

MANKIEWICZ: Yes. That's not "Sex and the City." No one gets - Samantha does not stab anybody in the forehead in "Sex and the City." Well, I don't know. That would have improved it. This is "Survival of the Dead" from George A. Romero, who is sort of considered the grandfather of zombies. I don't have to tell you that, Fredricka. Your fascination with zombie culture.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Me and "Thriller." Oh, love it.

MANKIEWICZ: Long lover of zombies. You know this - George Romero did "Night of the Living Dead," "Dawn of the Dead." Those sort of -

WHITFIELD: Did it get a better grade than "Sex and the City?"

MANKIEWICZ: Yes. But it is a whole different theme. You go into this knowing what to expect except the theme here is sort of spelled out at the end. I think it's lost. And, you know, every zombie movie pays tribute to "Night of the Living Dead."

And I think this is a step back for George A. Romero. But fans of his are certainly going to see it, no matter what. But I think it loses something along the way. It doesn't have the social significance of some of his other films.

WHITFIELD: C minus. All right. We got some DVDs right around the corner too that we're going to talk about in a moment. So Ben Mankiewicz, don't go far there in Los Angeles.

MANKIEWICZ: I won't.

WHITFIELD: Just stay right in that chair. We'll get back to you in a few minutes. OK. Of course, you can catch Ben Mankiewicz in depth, his movie reviews online at whattheflick on theyoungturks.com web site. And there he gets into the nitty-gritty details of all the movies releases like you saw right here.

All right. We're getting reports now of the season's first tropical depression, tropical storm, in fact, now, it's got a name. Jacqui Jeras says it is not in our backyard, not really. But it is sounding a little bit of a warning bell because it is way, way, way back in our yard. Much more straight ahead after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: We're going to be in the Weather Center with Jacqui Jeras, who is arriving now. I think we're going to talk a little Agatha first, because while that may be one of the first-named tropical storms, not necessarily on the Atlantic ocean side, but in the Pacific, so take it away, Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: In the Eastern Pacific, you know, the Eastern Pacific season already starts May 15th. So, you know, not unusual to have something developing or brewing here this time of the year. It is a weak tropical storm, winds only 40 miles per hour.

WHITFIELD: OK, that's encouraging.

JERAS: But that sounds good in theory. But the bad news is that we have some really, really heavy rainfall expected with this. This is heading towards Guatemala. It is already bringing very heavy rain into the area. It is a very mountainous region here. And so you get some additional up-sloping as we call it. We're concerned about flooding and mudslides in the area. One thing to think about here, have you heard what else is happening in Guatemala?

WHITFIELD: What?

JERAS: The volcano.

WHITFIELD: Oh, no.

JERAS: Yes, a volcano has been erupting there. One of the concerns is --

WHITFIELD: What a crazy confluence of events.

JERAS: Right, well what can happen is you get the ash

WHITFIELD: A lot of rain, volcanic--

JERAS: Mix ash with rain. What does that make?

WHITFIELD: Nasty mud.

JERAS: Almost like concrete even. So they're asking people to scoop out the ash because they're concerned if it gets in the storm drains that it could really clog things up. We're not talking about light rain. We're talking 10 to 20 inches potentially.

WHITFIELD: It's a mess.

JERAS: This is going to be a really slow mover.

The other big question people happen to be asking about this is where is this thing going? Is there any chance, yeah, it could get up in this area? Probably not. And the reason why those mountains we were talking about are probably going to sheer the heck out of this thing and just make it fall apart. So hopefully that will happen.

WHITFIELD: Good.

JERAS: But a couple of the models are bringing it this way, so it is just something to watch. It is just a good reminder that, hello, our hurricane season in the Atlantic begins June 1.

WHITFIELD: A couple of days away.

JERAS: So, getting something in the Gulf certainly not unheard of this time of the year either. Just so you know.

WHITFIELD: OK.

JERAS: And as you know we're also expecting a pretty active season in the tropical Atlantic.

WHITFIELD: Lucky us.

JERAS: Yeah. So, hey, it is a holiday weekend.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, oh, yeah I forgot about that.

JERAS: Whoohoo! Memorial Day.

WHITFIELD: No, just kidding, we know.

JERAS: We're working. Lots of people have to work the holiday weekend. Lots of people trying to get to the beach, too. If you're trying to get to the Gulf Coast, Florida beaches, we do have problems here, because of showers and thunderstorms. You can see the yellow boxes, severe thunderstorm watches, which means conditions are favorable for some damaging winds. And some hail, believe it or not, this far south.

That's something we're going to be watching, but more than anything else, just be aware of this if you're heading to the beach, especially late afternoon and evening. The next couple of days, we got this area of low pressure and the mid-levels of the atmosphere, so it is just bringing up all this moisture. And will continue to trigger this throughout the rest of the holiday weekend. What about tomorrow?

WHITFIELD: Labor Day, Memorial Day, always rainy. Why is that?

JERAS: It is that time of the year.

WHITFIELD: I feel like I always remember that, I get excited about hanging out at the pool or going to the beach Memorial Day, Labor Day, and there it is.

JERAS: Right. Well, unfortunately you'll see some of that tomorrow but there will be great places. We think the Texas beaches are going to be good. Things look great across much of California. Hot temperatures, we're talking pushing 100 in Phoenix already tomorrow. Things look good into the Northeast. If you're heading maybe to Ocean City, or something like that, things look good here and thunderstorms in the nation's midsection, these could be severe.

WHITFIELD: Are we talking Ocean City, Maryland?

JERAS: Yeah.

WHITFIELD: That was my hangout growing up.

JERAS: Why do you think I mention these things?

WHITFIELD: You're so smart. You remember everything.

JERAS: One other note, the beaches are open, by the way. People are asking about the oil spill, only three beaches are closed in Louisiana. Everything else is open. So, go have a good time.

WHITFIELD: Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, coastal areas, all open, folks.

JERAS: Just watch the storms. Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Jacqui.

JERAS: Sure.

WHITFIELD: You may want to stay clear-or clear up some space, rather, on your DVD shelf because a bunch of new movies and some classic ones are coming out just in time for the holiday weekend. That guy right there, Ben Mankiewicz, he has a review or two for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories now. BP says it is still too early to tell whether the top kill procedure will ultimately work. The oil company has been pumping a mud-like mixture into the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico for three days now. But it is still gushing something, oil, a mixture of oil and mud or maybe even gas. BP is already preparing for the next option, a custom built cap that would be placed over the leak.

Thousands are marching in Arizona today to protest the state's crackdown on illegal immigration. Protesters have come from all around the country. Arizona's tough new immigration law allows police investigating possible crimes to question people about their immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally. Critics say the law promotes racial profiling.

And actor Dennis Hopper has died at the age of 74. Hopper died this morning at his home in Venice, California, after a battle with prostate cancer. He was best known for his role in the film "Easy Rider". His career also included roles in "Rebel Without a Cause," "Blue Velvet," "Apocalypse Now" and "Hoosiers." >

All right, film critic for "What The Flick" on TheYoungTurks.com website, and host of Turner Classic Movies, Ben Mankiewicz is back. We're talking about movies not out on DVD including "Alice In Wonderland." Are you a big Tim Burton fan?

BEN MANKIEWICZ, FILM CRITIC: Well, you know, Tim Burton, one of the most visually interesting directors working today, and sometimes when I watch a Tim Burton movie, I know that I'm not understanding it. I feel intellectually inadequate frequently.

WHITFIELD: He's very artistic.

MANKIEWICZ: He is and he has clearly brilliant. And "Alice in Wonderland" is a sort of mixture. It is due out Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray, and it is a mixture of live action and animation and it is a new way of looking at Alice. Burton has her at 19 years old. And this is the most successful Tim Burton movie of all time, grossed more than $1 billion. And I suspect it will do pretty well on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday.

WHITFIELD: A must have in your view-or rent, I forget we sometimes are talking abut renting.

MANKIEWICZ: For Tim Burton fans no question about it, that's a movie they're going to want to have. And for real film buffs who want to, again, you know, like I said, there is nobody with a more visually sort of thoughtful style, almost nobody. Certainly I don't want to say nobody, but he's in the upper echelon of visually entertaining directors working today.

WHITFIELD: We know we should not lean upon my memory and how you rate certain movies, but I do remember, I know I got this one right, "Wolf Man". You are not a fan of this movie. It is out on DVD, Benicio Del Toro, he and Anthony Hopkins are usually awesome, great. Sell me on renting this DVD.

MANKIEWICZ: Well, you know, the performances in "Wolf Man" are pretty good. Benicio del Toro, wonderful actor, Anthony Hopkins, obviously, there are few that are better, Emily Blunt, who I'm a big fan is also in this movie. Hugo Weaving, those are four really talented actors. Yet it just doesn't come together quite right. It is the remake of the 1941 movie Claude Reigns Lon Chaney movie. And it just it-it lacks tension. That's its main problem.

WHITFIELD: Maybe it is better at home? What do you think? Sometimes it is different on the big screen.

MANKIEWICZ: Everything is better at home because you can order a pizza and because you're at home. But, I mean, and it is also going to be out Tuesday. It was a little disappointing at the box office. It was a troubled production right from the start. It also is also due out Tuesday. And it did not make more than a billion dollars at the box office. WHITFIELD: Wow. OK. Well, who doesn't love Clint Eastwood and all that is classic. The so-called spaghetti westerns, and, you know, I'm just recently getting hip to why they were called spaghetti westerns. I was wondering all this time. I probably should have asked you.

MANKIEWICZ: Well, they -- I would have told you. Shot largely in Italy or Spain with an Italian crew and shot overseas, those are the movies that made Clint Eastwood a star.

WHITFIELD: I just recently got hip to that. But, yeah.

MANKIEWICZ: Also coming out Tuesday, a collection of ten Eastwood films from Warner Brothers. I believe a company affiliated with both Turner Classic Movies and with CNN. But not because they're our parent company or sister company in any way, these movies couldn't be recommended more highly including "Dirty Harry," "Grand Torino," is in there, "Kelly's Heroes" "Where Eagles Dare," one of my favorite war movies of all time, "Mystic River," "Million Dollar Baby." I mean these are great, great, great titles that are available in the Clint Eastwood collection. He's a terrific actor and turned into one of most sort of well regarded directors working today. And I can't imagine a better thing to get than this ten-collection Eastwood set.

WHITFIELD: He's the complete package. No comment on my whistling? You were not impressed?

MANKIEWICZ: That was so good that I thought it was on the tape. That was top notch. That's it. You get a ten. That was awesome. I honestly had no idea that was you.

WHITFIELD: That was me. OK. Let's talk about "Spartacus," its 50th anniversary. What is going to happen now?

MANKIEWICZ: Well, you know, this actually came out last Tuesday. And I just wanted an opportunity to go back and recommend this to people, again 50th anniversary edition. Stanley Kubrick directed this when he was just 31 years old. Kirk Douglas, Lawrence Olivier, Peter Ustanoff, Tony Curtis, you know, this was sort of a revolutionary film at the time about the sort of upstart slave, Spartacus, fighting the Roman Empire. It was controversial at the time. Still controversial today. And the 50-year anniversary version is the updated, restored version that has some of the sexually charged scenes, even some of the sexually charged scenes with sort of bisexual overtones with Lawrence Olivier and Tony Curtis, definitely worth seeing, it has ups and downs in it, but as far as epics from the 1960s go, it is certainly worth seeing, Kirk Douglas delivers a terrific performance.

WHITFIELD: I'm amazed the color there was so vivid in that clip.

MANKIEWICZ: They did a nice job on the restoration. And classic film fans ought to be checking out the restored version of "Spartacus".

WHITFIELD: All right. Ben Mankiewicz, thanks so much. Always fun going to the movies with you.

MANKIEWICZ: My pleasure, Fred.

Thanks, Fred. And whistling was top notch. Come on! That's so good. So good.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much. Ben, have fun.

MANKIEWICZ: All right.

WHITFIELD: OK, well, he is the visionary who started CNN almost 30 years ago. So what's next for Ted Turner? I ask him. That, plus some of your questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, all day we have been face to face with cnn founder ted turner on this 30-year anniversary of the network's founding. So many of you actually submitted your own questions that you wanted me to ask him. I asked, and he answered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: We're seeing a very quick evolution in the type of news that is covered and how it is being covered?

TED TURNER, FOUNDER, CABLE NEWS NETWORK: I miss the sports scores. We used to run them across the bottom at least. Now we have, you know, if you watch --don't watch anything but CNN, you don't know who is going to win the World Series or the Preakness, or whatever.

WHITFIELD: And you love sports.

TURNER: I do. I like sports, too.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I mean, your --

TURNER: I would say I like entertainment. I was in the movie business. I like the restaurant business. I like people. I really do. And I try and be understanding of those that disagree with me.

WHITFIELD: Your foray into sports, I mean, you involved yourself with sports --

TURNER: Well, I own three or four teams.

WHITFIELD: --in so many different ways. Owning teams, being a sportsman yourself, a sailor.

TURNER: Right and televising lots of sports.

WHITFIELD: How much is sports a part of your life now actively?

TURNER: Not as much. But when it was, I worked real hard at it, went to almost every game.

WHITFIELD: That's a lot of fun.

TURNER: It was.

WHITFIELD: Do you miss any of that?

TURNER: I -- my life is different now. Let's say it that way. I don't -- I certainly don't go to every game.

WHITFIELD: We asked a lot of viewers to send their questions, if they had an opportunity to ask Ted Turner something, what would it be? And we got a slew of them. If you wouldn't mind, I'm going to share with you some of the questions that people asked and hopefully you like the questions enough to answer them.

So one viewer says, "If there was anything you wanted to be, or career you would have liked to investigate in addition to what you've done, what would that be?"

TURNER: I would have liked to have been captain planet. I would have liked to have been the ecological superhero.

WHITFIELD: That's why you created the captain planet.

TURNER: That's right.

WHITFIELD: And Craig asked this, "Do you ever regret relinquishing control of CNN?"

TURNER: Absolutely. I said that before, I think. That's my biggest regret.

WHITFIELD: "And do you think you would still be in the media business had you won your bid to acquire CBS," that from kip.

TURNER: Hard to tell, but I would think so.

WHITFIELD: And Karen asks this, ":What do you think of the shift from news to infotainment on television. If you still owned CNN, what would you do to counteract the direction of some of the competition?"

TURNER: I would have tried to stick to hard news as much as possible. We didn't do all hard news. We did, remember Jessica who got stuck in the well?

WHITFIELD: Jessica McClure, yeah.

TURNER: We had management meeting after that, that was such a high ratings thing, but the 24 hours that we worked to get her out, or get her out of the well, and at the -- we had monthly meetings of the CNN management and somebody at the next meeting suggested that we put candy bars around all of the vacant wells in the country, it was so good for --

WHITFIELD: That is so terrible.

TURNER: That is. But I'm just saying, and we -- when O.J. was driving around L.A. for 24 hours, we had a helicopter on him, too. When the story was big enough, we weren't -- we weren't perfect as far as hard news is concerned.

WHITFIELD: CNN influenced all the other networks.

TURNER: Sure.

WHITFIELD: With that type of moment.

TURNER: Yeah.

WHITFIELD: You know, covering the car chase as it was happening live. People were not conditioned to seeing live events, unfolding at anytime of the day, you know. Sadly the "Challenger" so many particular moments. Do you think ultimately --

TURNER: That is what CNN was all about. It was interesting to watch. And, but for most of that time we were the only network doing it. So it does change things when you have four or five networks doing the same thing. It is almost too much of it.

WHITFIELD: It is?

TURNER: I think.

WHITFIELD: Too much because of the volume of outlets?

TURNER: Yeah. I mean, all running the same story or basically the same story.

WHITFIELD: Are there moments where you turn it off?

TURNER: Yes.

WHITFIELD: What are those moments?

TURNER: When I'm out of time.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, Michael asks this. How do you think the media has changed since you've left CNN? Do you feel CNN's reporting the news accurately? This is from Michael Mochief (ph).

TURNER: The second question I'll answer that one, I think as accurately as they can. I think -- I get the feeling that CNN is trying to report, continue to report accurately.

WHITFIELD: Carol says, or asks, "Do you feel the need to take on another big challenge? If so, what would it be?"

TURNER: I have already, ridding the world of nuclear weapons and getting a new energy regime and stabilizing the population, and eliminating poverty and getting rid of all of the diseases. Doesn't that sound like enough for starters?

WHITFIELD: It sounds like a lot. Joshua says, "30 years ago, did you envision CNN going from a national news organization to a worldwide one? Do you think there is room for CNN to improve? And lastly, where do you see CNN in the next 10, or perhaps even 30 years? TURNER: Yes to the first question. I did see the international implications of it. And that's about five questions. What was the second one?

WHITFIELD: Do you think there is room for CNN to improve?

TURNER: Of course.

WHITFIELD: And lastly, where do you see cnn in the next 10, 20, 30 years?

TURNER: On top of the world, I hope.

WHITFIELD: And what is next for Ted Turner? We know your commitment to --

TURNER: I'm going to the Ted's Montana Grill for lunch. That's next.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: OK. And after that? Over the next course of a few weeks or months? Or even years?

TURNER: I'm just plugging along, trying to encourage people to go with clean renewable energy, get rid of nuclear weapons, and start doing the smart thing and stop doing dumb things. That's what I'm working on.

WHITFIELD: Is there ever down time for you?

TURNER: Sure.

WHITFIELD: How do you use your down time?

TURNER: I'm tired a lot. And I'm 71 now. I need a lot of rest. I try and take a nap when I can.

WHITFIELD: If you had an opportunity or if there were an opening to be part of CNN, again, would you take that opportunity?

TURNER: If they offered me a job that had nothing but a title, I wouldn't take it. It depends. I don't think -- I think at my age I'm probably too old to be an anchor. But I did -- I did, during the second -- at the beginning of the second Gulf war, I volunteered to go over there and cover the war because they didn't have anybody that would cover it, the second one, at that time. And I would have been happy to do it. They said, you don't have enough experience. I said all you have to do is be able to duck and say, whoa, that was close.

WHITFIELD: You have got to be kidding me.

TURNER: No, I'm serious. Anybody could do it.

WHITFIELD: Even if that's all it takes?

TURNER: That would be better than nobody. WHITFIELD: So you missed that opportunity?

TURNER: That's right. But I volunteered.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: We know he's fought a lot of battles and he's won seemingly almost all of them, right? Ted Turner in our "Face to Face":.

You can watch more of my interview with him at cnn.com/fredricka. And I'll see you again tomorrow. Meantime, Brooke Baldwin is coming up next with more of the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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