tv Forensic Files CNN August 11, 2014 11:00pm-11:31pm PDT
oscar winner, comic genius, and all-around good guy. robin williams dead at the age of 63. coming up, a look back at the man who gave millions around the world a reason to smile. under fire. a firsthand look at the dangers faced by kurdish forces as they try to rescue thousands of refugees trapped behind isis
front lines. also crisis in ukraine. the first convoy of humanitarian aid reportedly is on its way to some harder-hit areas in eastern parts of the country. and get them while you can. the moscow fashion craze that makes a political statement about the situation in ukraine. hello again. i'm rosemary church. >> and i'm errol barnett. welcome back to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world. comic genius, genuine soul, immensely talented. these are just some of the words being used to remember actor comedian robin williams. >> the world is mourning the death of the aclaimed comedian and actor. williams was found monday in his california home just north of san francisco. the local sheriff's office says coroners believe his death was a suicide due to asphyxia. he was 63. >> his wife, susan schneider, has asked for privacy at this very difficult time, but she did release a statement. let's go ahead and put it on your screens now. "this morning i lost my husband and my friend while the world lost one of its most beloved
artists and beautiful human beings. i'm utterly heartbroken. as he is remembered, it's our hope the focus will not be on robin's dath but on the countless moments of joy and lae laughter he gave to millions." >> word of williams' death has led to an outpouring of sorrow in hollywood. it was there of course that the funny man shot to fame in his first major tv role as the alien mork in "mork and mindy." >> i was looking at the ratings for "mork and mindy." when it was at its peak in the late 197 0z and early '80s when people like my mom and dad were watching, we were seeing 60 million viewers every week for that show. 60 million viewers. that is of course -- no show on television gets that many viewers nowadays. but it speaks to how significant it was for his career. after all, robin williams was an unknown when he was cast first for the "happy days" role and then it became "mork and mindy."
now, the show was moved around on the schedule and it eventually lost audience, but it was the springboard for his career. >> it's amazing. 60 million viewers. >> it just doesn't happen now with cable tv. just unbelievable. >> but from "mork and mindy" williams would go on to play a myriad of different roles. >> cnn entertainment correspondent nischelle turner looks back at his incredibly diverse career. >> reporter: his high-octane brand of comedy was his trademark public persona. but robin williams proved himself an oscar winner with a strong philanthropic side. born in 1951, it was in his 20s when williams was unleashed. first as an american tv star. >> run for your life! the emotions are coming! >> reporter: as mork from the planet ork in "mork and mindy" williams became a household name. when the series ended after a four-year run in 1982, he showed he could do more than make people laugh. >> my name is t.s. garp. >> what's t.s. stand for?
>> terribly sexy. >> the juilliard-schooled actor unveiled his dramatic side for the first time in 1982's "the world according to garp." >> i was trained as an actor. so it's not like they have to medicate me. >> reporter: that serious side earned him oscar nominations for "the fisher king." >> good morning vietnam! >> reporter: "good morning vietnam" and "dead poets society." >> it's the golden dude. >> he finally won his only oscar statue in 1998 for "good will hunting." >> this one, yes. the other ones were just foreplay. it's extraordinary. >> reporter: but williams never stopped being funny, even when the topic seemed serious. he helped launch and co-hosted eight telethons over 20 years to help the homeless. >> men who sleep with chickens and the women who love them. >> reporter: comic relief earned more than $50 million. and even when he talked about
his battles with drugs and alcohol, he talked about it with humor. >> you were drunk. >> well, that's nice of you to say that. >> reporter: he took three trips to rehab. most recently this summer. he talked about the process on "larry king live" in 2007. >> what happens to people, basically start the process of just saying no and being among others. you know, and learning that you're not alone and working on giving up. >> do you lose your sense of humor in it? >> no. you find it. you're with people who have a great sense of humor. >> so you're funny there too. >> oh, yeah. you've got to be. >> reporter: in 2009 williams was rushed to the hospital with heart problems. forced to temporarily cancel his one-man show to undergo surgery. he talked about his recovery on the "ellen" show. >> you have a heart surgery, and literally they open you up, they crack the box, and you get really vulnerable. you'll be like, a kitten. it's a kitten! and you get very, very emotional about everything. but i think that's in a way a wonderful thing. it really opens you up to everything. >> reporter: and with a new lease on life williams quickly
sprang back into action. in 2011 he made his broadway acting debut starring in rajiv joseph's "bengal tiger at the baghdad zoo." that same year he would marry his third wife, graphic designer susan schneider. in 2013 williams would return to the small screen, starring in the cbs sitcom "the crazy ones." where he would reunite with his old friend pam dawber, better known as mindy. >> i've never met anyone as screwy as you. you're like an alien. >> reporter: from stand-up and sitcoms and beyond, williams would delight audiences for decades with his wacky humor and joyful energy. he was the definition of full of life. and even now his comic legend is destined to endure. >> that was our nischelle turner reporting there. but across the globe people are expressing their condolences over the death of robin williams. rosemary, you were saying the
u.s. president's quote was kind of one of your favorites you've seen. >> just amazing. i think it's beautifully worded. u.s. president barack obama called him one of a kind, saying this -- "he arrived in our lives as an alien, but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. he made us laugh. he made us cry. he gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who need it most. from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets." >> celebrities also weighing in. actress sally field. you may remember she starred with williams in the movie "mrs. doubtfire," one miff personal favorites. and here you see her comments. "he always lit up when he was able to make people laugh. and he made them laugh his whole life long tirelessly." there will not be another. >> and of course you mentioned doubtfire. they were going to do another one. >> a sequel everyone was getting ready for. >> my kids were excited about it. >> i was excited about it. >> well, we will have much more of course on robin williams
later in the newscast. in half an hour we will hear what comedian joy behar has to say about the actor's shocking death. and now to iraq. the country is face a humanitarian disaster in the north. and political turmoil in its capital. >> the country's president has nominated haider al ibadi as the next prime minister. but the sitting prime minister is calling the movie "null and void." >> speaking of nouri al maliki there. he also plans to run for a third term. meanwhile, u.s. president barack obama welcomed al ibadi's nomination. >> that's been a difficult day in iraq. a country that has faced challenges in its history. and i'm sure it will face difficult days ahead.
just as the united states remained slaijt to the threat posed to our people by isil, we stand ready to stand with iraq against these terrorist forces. without question that effort will be advanced. if iraqis continue to build on today's progress and come together to support a new and inclusive government. >> now, in the north of the country tens of thousands of yazidi minorities are still trapped on sinjar mountain cut off by isis fighters and in dire need of water and other supplies. on monday the u.s. military dropped a fifth load of humanitarian relief dune to the yazidis trapped on that mountain. british c-130s and iraqi military helicopters are also dropping aid. >> cnn senior international correspondent ivan watson and photojournalist mark phillips rose along with the iraqi military as they plucked some of those desperate people off of that mountainside.
[ machine guns firing ] >> reporter: machine gunners unleash bursts of hot metal. this is the crew aboard an iraqi air force helicopter. they burned through cartridges and belts of ammunition while rushing an aircraft full of food, diapers, water, and baby's milk over isis front lines to civilians trapped on sinjar mountain. >> gunners opening fire at targets down below. they say they regularly take fire from isis positions. and they're clearly trying to defend the aircraft. you can see the people below, trapped on sinjar mountain. they're clustered. they're clustered under olive trees right now, waving to us. they seem to have gathered in these shelters down here. a lot of women and children waving.
>> reporter: the crew hurls packages out the door. people swarm the chopper. this has been one chaotic aid distribution. i mean, i really hope we didn't hurt anybody with the bottles of water we were throwing down from a height of 20, 30 feet. it's chaotic. people were waving. they were giving thumbs up. and there are a couple -- there are a couple people very relieved to be off the mountain and clearly very, very frightened. then the helicopter lands one last time to pick up more passengers. here they come. more desperate people throw themselves at the aircraft. heaving their children on board.
but we've got little aziza here. she's not happy. because she says her father got left behind. the gunners are opening fire on targets below. they're protecting the helicopter. but it's terrifying these little kids, who are traumatized after their week trapped on that mountain. the problem is we're flying over isis front lines. this is the only protection we have right now to protect the aircraft and its precious cargo. tensions ease when we cross into kurdish-controlled territory. and for a moment there are even smiles as these children realize their ordeal on the mountain is finally over. ivan watson, cnn, over sinjar mountain in northern iraq.
>> of course those images are just so powerful, aren't they? we've been talking for these last few hours about that just being just a small portion of the people. how tens of thousands still waiting to be saved. >> that story told so well. certainly a standout report on cnn right now. coming up, we'll move farther south and take a closer look at the difficult transfer of power down in baghdad. >> yeah. we will show you why the stakes are so very high in iraq's political transition. plus, russia says it's sending hundreds of trucks filled with humanitarian aid to eastern ukraine. coming up, we'll talk about why the west is so concerned about that. and racial tensions in the u.s. heartland. police fire tear gas during a second night of protests against the shooting death of a teenager. ♪ man: [ laughs ] those look like baby steps now. but they were some pretty good moves.
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welcome back, everyone. ukraine and russia have now clinched a deal to deliver aid to parts of eastern ukraine. this is under the auspices of the international committee of the red cross. the icrc met with reps from both countries to discuss terms of this operation. russian media report that a russian humanitarian convoy of 280 trucks carrying food, medicine, and power generators is on its way to ukraine at this
moment. but some western leaders including u.s. president barack obama are warning russia not to use this mission as a way to send in more troops. nato's secretary-general says they're watching russia closely as well. >> there is a high probability, we see the russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation under the guise of a humanitarian operation, and we see a military build-up that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in ukraine. >> let's go ahead and discuss that could that was just mentioned there. will ripley as you see joins us live from the ukrainian capital, kiev. what more do we know about this russian-backed effort to get aid
into the east of ukraine in addition to the fact they've got troops it's understood amassed on the russian side of the border. one estimate is that it's 20,000, and analysts and experts saying if you think back to what happened in crimea, they go in on the pretext of a humanitarian effort and then end up chopping a piece off of the country for themselves. >> right, errol. first of all, i need to point out too i just got off the phone with the red cross here in kiev. they were just as surprised as everyone else to hear of these russian media reports of a convoy of 280 russian trucks heading for the border of eastern ukraine. they were surprised because while an agreement has been reached that russia would hypothetically cooperate with ukraine, with the united states, with the eu to get this aid into eastern ukraine no document has been signed as of yet. so there really isn't any agreement according to the red cross spokesperson here in kiev about how to get these supplies to people who in luhansk and the other areas around there that
have been cut off from the rest of the world for more than a week. they desperately need the help. nobody is disputing that p. but the fact that russian media, and again, cnn hasn't confirmed, this but multiple news agencies are confirming this convoy is heading for eastern ukraine, that's concerning to a lot of people. and here's why. the russian media is saying that this convoy is unarmed. but there's been intense fighting in this area in eastern ukraine for days now. so how is this unarmed convoy going to safely get to the people that they need to deliver the aid to? and let's say hypothetically this convoy were to come under attack on its way? because again, no agreement, no cease-fire has been reached as of yet. if the russian convoy, the unarmed con vai were to come under fire, one, it would put those people in danger, and two, could that then be a reason for russia, which has some estimates here in ukraine are placing 45,000 troops along the border, up from that 20,000 number that nato's saying. ukraine believes it's closer to 45,000. so if the convoy were to come under fire, errol, would russia
then take that as a reason to cross its military into the border in eastern ukraine? so right now everybody watching this very closely. obviously they want to get help to the people who need it. but how that's done and what this convoy could lead to are some very serious concerns here in kiev right now. >> very interesting development there that this convoy is on its way and the red cross is even saying hang on a minute, this is taking us by surprise. i think i saw them quoted in some earlier articles saying look, both russia and ukraine need to make a deal and agree before we can participate. so we'll see what happens there. but what does the ukrainian government expect the international response to be if russia goes ahead and sends this convoy anyway under the expectation that it could kick something off? of course the kremlin's already been warned by europe through the european commission president and by the u.s. as well. but if they go ahead and do it anyway, what kind of response does ukraine expect outside of
its borders from the international community? >> reporter: well, those are discussion that's have been continuously happening. the president of ukraine spoke with the u.s. president obama just yesterday. and we know that the ukrainian parliament is in fact meeting in less than an hour and one of the top priorities on their agenda is discussing sanctions against russia here in ukraine. so the ukrainian government already looking at actions that it may take in response to any potential action by russia. obviously ukraine will be reaching out to its partners in the eu. they've talked to the united states, spoken to the uk, seeking any sort of assistance in trying to prevent russia from moving into this area, which has been really -- this is a key moment for ukraine right now. the ukrainian military appears to be closing in close to retaking donetsk and luhansk, which have been rebel-held strong holds for months. and if the russian military were to move in and stop the
ukrainian military from doing that, that could be a huge setback that a lot of people don't want to see happening. >> interesting developments out of ukraine. will ripley is live for us out of ukraine tracking this very important developing story. will, thanks. iraq has a new prime minister waiting to form a government and take office. but the current prime minister isn't letting go of power so easily. we're going to get you all the information on this after the break. my social circle includes captains of industry, former secretaries of state, oil tycoons, and ambassadors of countries known for their fine cheeses. yes i am rich. that's why i drink the champagne of beers.
earlier today vice president bidein and called dr. ibadi to congratulate him and to urge him to form a new cabinet as quickly as possible, one that's inclusive of all iraqis and one that represents all iraqis. >> the u.s. president and others in the international community are sewing their support for haider al ibadi. he is the man hand-picked by iraqi president fouad massoum to become the nation's new prime minister. but he is certainly facing an uphill battle. let's bring in david tafuri. he is a former u.n. and u.s. state department official. he joins us via skype from erbil. thank you, sir, for talking with us. there are of course so many layers to this story. but we do want to start with this political crisis that of course threatens the nation. prime minister maliki refusing to step down despite the naming of his replacement. what has been the overall reaction to the naming of haider al ibadi, and will he be able to unite the nation, something
maliki has certainly failed to do? >> well, this is not surprising that prime minister maliki is going to try to hold on to the prime ministership. he has amassed a lot of power over the last eight years that he's been prime minister and amassed a lot of wealth. he also has some militias, shiite militias that are loyal to him. he reportedly has moved them around the green zone now. and he's going to contest this new development. you see that haider al ibadi has a great amount of support outside of iraq from allies to iraq like the u.s. he also now has a great amount of support inside iraq. most people and most groups and political parties in iraq believe it is time for a new prime minister. and they blame prime minister maliki for the resurgence of isis and isis's success in northern iraq. therefore, it seems likely that ibadi will be successful but not
without some conflict over the next few days as prime minister maliki tries to hang on. >> all right. let's go back to one of those points you raised. what do you think nouri al maliki plans to do with the military forces that are loyal to him, taking up positions around the capital? >> well, right now he's using the leverage he has, which is some special forces units and militias that are loyal to him. he has influence with a number of people in iraq. so he's trying to use that as leverage to regain his position as prime minister. he probably doesn't -- hasn't really grasped reality yet. he's, you know, riding off of eight years of accumulating a lot of power. so there could be some conflict. expect there will be some violence in baghdad. and it's going to be potentially aggravated by the fact that isis sees this weakness and it moves
toward weakness and vulnerability. and isis could also have its eyes again on baghdad. >> and that's a point i wanted to talk with you because of course the timing couldn't be worse, could it, while this political crisis plays out. isis prepares to attack baghdad. we know what's happening in the north of the country. how prepared is the capital if isis does take advantage of the current political turmoil? and this could go on at least for 30 days because the new prime minister won't take over. he has to form his new government in that time. and while he's doing that maliki's in charge. >> that's correct. and as we've seen after previous elections, it takes a long time to form a government in baghdad. it took nine months the last time. so expect it's going to take a while. they're going to try and meet this -- and not be able to make it. it gives isis a lot of room to maneuver. and potentially create more chaos in baghdad.
but i still think it's very unlikely that isis has any real chance of taking over baghdad. baghdad has a lot of shiite militias, a lot of young military-age males who would fight back against isis. and isis realizes it can't take baghdad. but it does also know that it can create more chaos and more instability. that's really what it wants, is the instability. >> yeah. and for now that is exactly what they're getting. of course as this is playing out we know what's happening with the u.s. air strikes in the north and of course the humanitarian crisis as we've been covering. david tafuri, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your perspective with us on this story. we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> we're going to take a short break here, but we'll have more for you when we come back. >> one fellow comic calls him a tortured soul. we will have more on the shocking death of actor-comedian robin williams. plus, police and protesters clash for a second night in the u.s. state