tv The War Room With Jennifer Granholm Current July 12, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
boat. you live next door to someone for so long and you don't know it and then all of a sudden, you start talking about it. hey, you too? and yeah. >> a couple of months, haven't paid the mortgage, struggling to decide to pay it or to not because if you don't pay it for a couple of months then you go into the >> jennifer: that's a moment from the powerful new documentary hard times lost on long island. which is collision airing on hbo. hb on. on demand and hbo go. similar scenes are playing out in middle class communities all across the country. more than 5 million americans have been out of work for over six months. this film, chronicles the human
stories behind those numbers and joining me tonight from new york city is the director of hard times, marc levin. marc, welcome in to the war room. >> thank you for having me. >> jennifer: you bet. so let's get started. why did you pick this town in new york as the setting for the document ry? documentary? >> well, i looked at a number of films that have been done and as you know there has been a lot done on the deindustrialization and the rust belt and the housing crisis also, which hit very hard in florida, las vegas california. so we decided why not go to the heart and soul of kind of the suburban dream leavitt town long island really after world war ii became the model for the new suburban bee a and the new social contract. that if you worked hard, were responsible citizen, you could have a secure life. not necessarily get rich, but have a good life and hopefully give your kids a better life. so that's what led us to long
island. >> jennifer: do you think that there is, having done this, a lack of empathy and/or policy for the long-term unemployed? >> well, i think there is a general mischaracterization. it's so easy to fall in to. i would admit that i have done it at times, you know, saying they are lazy, they are not looking for work, they are moochers, they are freeloaders. you know just to kind of ignore it, or put them down. and what we found was people who, it's not only the financial hardship, but the psychological toll is unbelievable really. i have to admit, i was shocked. >> jennifer: so i want -- i am going to play another clip from the documentary, take a listen. >> i can't go without insurance especially now. it's just not right. like i have been working since i am 15, straight through all the years. i never used those benefits. you know, like i worked hard for those benefits, now i am 50
years old and i can't get them. i am broke. i am freaking poor. i am bankrupt, i am done. you know. i am in the lower half. >> jennifer: you talked to a lot of people, how hard is it for older professionals like him to get their lives back? >> it's very difficult. you know when you are out of work for over a year, you have seen the classifieds that say only apply if you have a job. if you are unemployed, they won't even interview you. and then obviously there is an unfolk en ageism, you are 50, 55, you know, people basically say your time is done. it's a tragedy. and the thing i guess that was most surprising to me was the fact that it's invisible in many ways. especially in suburban bee a. i mean, i didn't know until we started this that the fastest
growing area of poverty in the united states is burr into is ba burr bee a. you would think you would see it more in your face, but the neighborhoods look beautiful. houses are still nice. the cars still look good. but you go inside and you see the psychic did he 60 greg did he 60 greg of so many americans and americans that played bile the rules and did the right things, they thought they were immune. and yet their lives have been turned upside down, but unlike a hurricane or a natural disaster, this is in slow motion. and many of them actually internalize it and are ashamed and are afraid to even admit what the situation is. >> jennifer: all right. i totally know this. i totally know it. without -- >> i know. >> jennifer: i mean, you know, in the industrial midwest obviously we see it from the middle class this hollowing out and there is such a deep sense inside of shame and of, you
know embarrassment and all of that when it wasn't their fault. without giving anything away, or without giving everything away, how many of the characters have found jobs since the film was finished? >> well, we followed closely four families and one out of the four, you know, luckily has gotten a good job and gotten back in to it. but i wanted to say something because, you know, i think your experience is critical. you know you saw in the midwest, beginning in the late '70s and the early '80s, the kind of did he industrialization. what we were told is look, let's accept globalization automation, all of these changes happening because maybe the blue collar jobs will dismere disappear the manual labor but if you have a college degree, don't worry those are the good johns what we have discovered in the last 10, 15 years and certainly after the crash of 2008, is nobody is safe. >> jennifer: yeah. i think that is a really
important statement to leave it on. marc levin director of hb on. 's hard times lost on long island. thank you very much for joining me inside the war room. and now to my point. there is a reason why stories of about hollowing out of the middle class resonates. and why it resonates in this presidential election. it is deep. it's deep with people. you probably know somebody who has lost their job. i know i sure do. and it's not just blue collar workers. everyone is vulnerable. the middle class workers who have had the rug pulled out from under them lie changes in our economy are not slackers. they aren't looking for handouts. they are not looking for freebees, they did everything that they were supposed to do. they studied worked, saved. >> reporter: and now they just want jobs. they want the dignity of work. they want to be able to contribute to the economy. to their families, to their communities. but they can't. their prospects continue to fall even oscar pratt profits
and stock indexes sore. thosesoar the thosethat were hits have had to clear out that i desk. put their homes on the market and move their families and in many ways they have actually lost their very identity. and it's why the issue of outsourcing at bain capital matters in this election. mitt romney was the president ceo and sole share shoulder of bain capital when it inflicted this kind of pain on thousands thousands of regular people. his bain capital took jobs way closed companies companies and did he have straighteddevastatedcommunities and to add insult to injury he made millions off those empty desks and foreclosed homes and displace the families and shattered dreams and that is why he is fighting this outsourcing charge tooth and nail. precisely because it hurts so
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count basie and duke ellington. she like her husband, nat king cole was an outspoken civil rights activist. she was 89 years old. now that vice president biden and mitt romney have both addressed the naacp convention, it may be the perfect time to reflect on the state of race relations in this country and the legacy of pioneers like maria cole. with me is david the president of current tv. he has an interesting perspective on maria cole's unique contribution to the civil rights movement. david, welcome on to the set of "the war room." >> i know you've been trying to get me on for awhile. >> jennifer: yes begging. >> when i heard the news maria had died,'s tell you what came to mind. she and my father hosted a very political television show and they were a team on tv discussing all of the events of the day.
as you said, it is a great moment to look at how far we've come and how far there is yet to go with romney and the naacp and a little bit about what i'm going to show you. what came to mind was this interview with sammy davis jr. maria is going to ask sammy -- call them by their first names to explain his new jacket which was the jacket that no one had ever seen before. let's look at that. >> actually, maria mentioned the fact we were rapping about your clothes. as long as the subject was brought up and brooched, let's talk about the change. >> they are really great. >> this is a jacket kind of a thing. >> it is a combination. there are two or three types of different jackets. the longer run is a nay role. >> the interview was not all
superficial. very political program. >> i love the smoke curling around them. >> smoke on the desk. it probably killed my father and sammy. >> jennifer: your dad was sort of the -- he was the progressive voice on the show. >> he was the screaming liberal on television in los angeles in the anne 60s. they got to a topic that was hot in the late '60s. my country right or wrong. you're going to see my dad way to the left of maria and sammy. sammy davis was kind of conservative. he sang for richard nixon. maria was really sharp. but she and sammy gang up on my dad as he begins to push back on the concept of my country right or wrong. let's take a look at that one. >> when you came up with the phrase my country right or wrong, not really my country wrong -- >> no, yes. >> yes. i agree. >> fight it. >> because i tell you the reason why. you fight it like they're doing with the protest things, with
this, with that. but it is your country right! >> wait a minute, man. let's not forget that line. and somewhere along the line, i think a lot of people have forgotten that if rap and stokely and everyone else didn't care about the country even though they deal in the extreme they would all -- we would be making big plots like let's go take over another country or let's go invade -- get all of the black people to leave america. this is where it's happening. i can tell you this from experience. at both as a poor, black man as an impoverished black man and as an affluent in terms of living in beverly hills black man. this is it, man! forget paris. forget london. forget rome. forget all of them! you dig me? because as bad as it is, i'm not going to trade america for the ability to walk down the street with a white girl and hold her hand and have nobody turn around and look at me which is all
you're trading for in getting a room over there. over here, you have opportunity without equality. over there you have equality without a chance of any opportunity. >> our guest has been sammy davis jr. sammy, we've had a lot of people on this show. i think of all of the people and i'm including william buckley and people of that caliber nobody has been more articulate on this last segment of this interview, on this particular subject than you have been. i truly respect your opinion. >> thank you. >> i respect most of the things you've said and i agree with most of the things. one area, we could sit here and talk for five hours about my country, right or wrong but we should stop the interview right now because it has all been said. it can't be said anymore. thank you. suffice. >> now, can i kiss maria? >> please do. >> i would even let you kiss me. >> we'll return. >> so now -- nat king cole is a
true pioneer. the first big breakthrough singer. african-american singer into a white entertainment world. he had a television show that failed because he was black. advertisers weren't going to support it. a great quote maria has once said that nat used to say america's a trade of the dark. -- afraid of the dark. she lived through the most racist of racist times. >> jennifer: interesting in this. you said this was in -- >> '67 or '68. >> she's a cohost. >> they did the show three hours a day five days a week. >> jennifer: that must have been -- >> they interviewed all of the political leaders of the day from left wing to right wing. and it was -- >> jennifer: what's interesting to me is what sammy davis jr. said about here we've got equality and no opportunity. did i say that backwards. i think i flipped it. he would rather be in the place where there's opportunity.
>> unimaginable that it is now being played. when we have an african-american president. i don't think that would have entered their minds in 1967. >> jennifer: interesting to me the language and the arguments still play out. >> they're playing out in the naacp this week. >> jennifer: thanks for sharing that. that was really great stuff. really great stuff. thank you dade bohrman president of current tv. a former first lady becomes secretary of state as a testy reporter tries to ruin her career. it is not real life but a new tv mini series. we'll get the scoopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopopop
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or god forbid, both. >> we're off the record tonight. it is just for color. >> tell me. did you have a boyfriend? >> um, yes, i do. >> is that right? i always thought you were a lesbian. >> jennifer: academy award winner ellen burstyn chewing up the scenery in the new u.s.a. network series political animals. it pulls back the curtain on a powerful political family as they navigate the complexities of washington. ripped from the headlines action centers around get this, a divorced former first lady and current secretary of state. her name is elaine played by sigourney weaver and ellen burstyn plays weaver's mother, the matriarch and former las vegas show girl margaret. she's no stranger, ellen burstyn isn't to political films. she played barbara bush in w. she was featured in pollywood
and she's coming to us tonight from new york. thank you so much, miss burstyn for joining us in "the war room." >> thank you and please call me ellen. >> jennifer: all right ellen. i have to brag, ellen was born in detroit so she is a michigander. so we are sinal patco. -- we are simpatico. in addition to being a michigander, you're a political junky. what was your reaction when you were asked to do the show? >> i'm very happy to be on the show. it is well-written. my part is funny. it is a series show. but i get all of the good comedy lines. and it's very interesting to see all of the maneuvers and the behind the scenes dealing and what goes on in the political life. and it is just so well-written that i couldn't resist it. and i love my character. >> jennifer: your character seems very colorful. what a great thing to be able to
play. so let's play a clip -- another clip from the show. i'll talk to you in a sec. >> okay. >> i saw the attendee list. why is that bitch susan byrd coming? >> please do me the favor of not talking to her. try not saying things like the country didn't elect me because they didn't want to sleep with me. >> it's true. [ laughter ] >> jennifer: now it is kind of clear that political animals draws inspiration from perhaps the clintons. did you study anyone specific for your role in this? >> i didn't because i'm the least political person in the story. i'm an ex-vegas show girl so all of my research was about vegas in the '50s and the founding of it with all of the mob bosses that bought into it and built it which i found fascinating and the rat pack that was very active in that period. and i being a show girl, i
assumed would be -- would know them and be involved with them. i did a lot of research about them. and figured out what kind of costume i would wear and how old i was and what i looked like and what the life of other show girls was in vegas. it was fascinating reading. >> jennifer: i'll bet it was. i'll bet it was. so i guess that dorothy hillary's mother was not necessarily the direct parallel. i don't think she would have been a vegas show girl but so much of this series obviously draws from a former first lady current secretary of state. i'm curious from your perspective, given that you personally are a great follower of politics, what would a hillary clinton run for president in 2016 mean to you? >> i think she will run and i think she will be elected and i think she will be the first woman president of the united states. >> jennifer: that would be so fantastic. >> i have no doubt about that. >> jennifer: well, i'm going to write that down right here.
ellen burstyn predicts hillary clinton will be the next president of the united states. we'll play it back for you when you come on in 2016 so you can say i told you so. you actually played barbara bush though in the movie w. do you think it is more first down portray a republican or a democrat? >> it is more fun to be a democrat any time. [ laughter ] >> jennifer: in real life or in the movie? >> both. i find democrats more colorful. >> jennifer: i think that's probably true. i wonder if you can -- if you would be able to discern which is a more cut-throat environment whether it is hollywood or washington, d.c.? >> that's kind of a tossup, isn't it? there is an awful lot of camaraderie in hollywood. not necessarily among the corporations that own the studios but among the actors and the artists who work in film. i don't know how much of that exists in washington anymore.
i think it did at one time when they worked together. but now that little group that's got ahold of the congress that's making sure that none of our president's good ideas get implemented, i don't think there's much camaraderie possible with them. >> jennifer: so i take it from your comments that you are a supporter of president obama of course this is a progressive show so we love hearing that. what's your reaction when mitt romney attacks the president? >> well, first of all, it is disrespectful because i don't think he tells the truth. i think he makes stuff up. i dare say he lies. and i find it kind of smarmy. i do. i'm sorry. >> jennifer: you don't have to apologize. are you kidding?
we love that on this show. we've got a whole wall here dedicated to mitt romney's flip-flops and lies. we have a whole segment about mitt romney's secrets and lies so you're not saying anything that shocks anyone here. it is kind of nice to hear someone who's not necessarily a full-time political person agree with us. >> i have utmost respect for barack obama and his family. and his dog who i met recently. bo. i think they are fine people and he's an intelligent and considered leader. >> jennifer: i have one serious last question to ask you. as someone who knows about possession from your role in the exorcist, did you think that mitt romney is possessed by the koch brothers, the tea party or maybe karl rove? >> i think the republican party is possessed by karl rove. [ laughter ] >> jennifer: i think she get an a for that answer! that's ellen burstyn of u.s.a.
network's political animals mini series. thank you so much for joining us in "the war room." delightful to have you on. by the way this debuts this sunday at 10:00 p.m. up next, our own brett ehrlich compares mitt romney and joe biden's naacp speeches. you will not be booing. you're watching "the war room" on current tv. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] what's the point of an epa estimated 42 miles per gallon if the miles aren't interesting? the lexus ct hybrid. this is the pursuit of perfection.
>> jennifer: and now a little visit to crazytown which is moving off-line. actually google announced it had plans to promote safer conditions for gay people in countries are harsh anti-gay laws and almost immediately the american family association began considering a boycott of google. of google! how do you boycott google? not only would boycotting google seem virtually impossible but i wonder american family association without google, how would you be able to research ignorance and hatred and of course crazytown? so joe biden and mitt romney both spoke at the naacp convention this week and their receptions could not have been more different. here to compare the two is brett ehrlich. shh, brett's talking now.
>> so there have been two big speeches at the naacp convention. first was mitt romney and this is a tough room for him. afterall, it is the naacp and he couldn't be less c of a p. he might be the most w p in the u-universe. but you see what happens. >> i'm going to eliminate everybody nonessential expensive program i can find and that includes obama care and i'm going to work to reform and save -- [crowd booing] >> oh, that's right 95% of black voters like the other guy so don't be yourself, i guess. next up was the naavp. is it just me or did he seem a little bit more at home? >> joe biden! >> i see you out there. how you doing? >> not only was he introduced like he was a starter for the lakers but he just did a shout
out to a person named mousy. i think he's doing okay. to be fair, biden did get booed too. >> let me close my friends -- [booing] >> yeah, they booed but only because they didn't want his speech to end. >> he did it like this. >> god bless you all and may god protect our troops. thank you. >> that's right. he smacked the podium and ran off stage basically everything but shouting biden out and spiking the microphone. biden had the crowd riled up, almost as riled up as romney did at this speefn he gave. but we don't have the tape? oh, because he's never had that one riled up? that's depressing. i'm done talking now. >> jennifer: i love it. thank you all for joining us here in "the war room." we'll see you back tomorrow night.