tv Amanpour Company PBS December 20, 2018 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour." here is what's coming up. did i hear the word bipartisan? >> a christmas miracle. a bipartisan success works its way through congress. why democrats and republicans are coming together to pass criminal justice reform. then -- >> no. >> having a laugh with actors john c. reilly and steve coogan, how they became the comedy duo laurel and hardy in the new film "stop and olly." plus, leading the charge against climate change. we take a lap around the world with "new york times" journalist
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family, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. now after years of hyper partisanship in congress, this week marked one of the first across the aisle triumphs of the trump era. as the senate overwhelmingly voted for criminal justice reform. it is called the first step act. it made strange bed fellows of progressive democrats like senator elizabeth warren and conservative super donors the koch brothers. the law is expected to pass the house. it would give judges flexibility when it comes to mandatory minimum sentencing as well as boosting efforts to rehabilitate prisoners. currently the united states has the highest rate of incarceration in the entire world. the latest numbers showing more than 2 million people are behind bars in the u.s. with african-americans disproportionately represented. joining me now is the senior vice president and general counsel for koch industries,
mark holden, and former obama staffer van jones who along with kim kardashian west was brought in by president trump's son-in-law jared kushner on a successful campaign to persuade the president to back the bill. gentlemen, welcome to the program. >> thank you. good to be here. >> good to be here. >> this is a big hype that's going on. should i be worried about anything? is everything there that meets the eye? >> yeah, you know, it's funny people -- we've gotten so conditioned and i think rightfully so to expect nothing but bad stuff and worse stuffer from the trump administration especially those of us on the left such that the idea he could do 99 things bad but still do one thing good, most people can't get their brains wrapped around. this is one of those things a christmas miracle, it's not that you have to see it to believe it. you have to believe it to see it. do you believe ordinary people can come together and do good things for the people at the bottom.
if you believe that, welcome to america today. >> so, mark holden, we want to report good news. we want to report successes when they happen. per conservative koch brothers into this particular aspect of social reform, let's face it? >> yeah, i don't -- charles and david are super people. i don't know if they're super conservative. they're classical liberals. what brought us to the table are pretty much the same type of things that brought van and his team to the table. we believe in fundamental liberty. we believe in fairness. we believe in equal justice. we believe in second chances. and we believe in breaking barriers to opportunity for everybody, particularly the least advantaged. if you look at our criminal justice system, what's been going on the last 30 or 40 years, it's been a huge poverty trap and it hasn't made us safer over time. we've wasted a lot of money. we've wasted a lot of human potential as well. and what we've learned, though, in the last 10 to 15 years with the success of all the states like texas, south carolina, georgia, delaware, you name it,
you can keep people safe and also make sure they're getting rehabilitated while in prison. when they come out they're less violent, less troubled, more productive. they don't hurt anybody else. you save a lot of money. a red state like texas in the past ten years have closed down eight prisons, saved over $4 billion, and have a crime rate we haven't seen since the mid-1960s. that's what we want and it needs to happen at the federal level in particular. they need to get onboard. they're way behind. this first step act is a really good start. >> you did say less money and saving money and all the rest of it. that goes to a little bit of a small government motivation perhaps from your side. i'll dig down deeper in a moment. for our viewers, for the sake of all of our understanding, van, what exactly does this act do? what does this bill now do? >> great. listen, it lets 100% of the people who are locked up come home earlier if they stay out of trouble.
it gives incentive for people to just stay out of trouble. it gives 100% of the women who are locked up their freedom not to be shackled and otherwise mistreated when they're having babies and stuff like that. it makes 100% of the people who are locked up be kept closer to their families than otherwise. and for half of the people who are locked up, it gives them the opportunity to get job ready and earn the right to come home even sooner. it also cleans up some of the really bad mandatory minimums that happened during the crack era in a retroactive way so a couple thousand people can come home that are sitting there based on outdated sentences. let me just say this. the left and right have come together on this for principled reasons. conservatives in this country who believe in limited government, who believe -- who are christian conservatives who believe in dignity and second chances for people and redemption, who are libertarians and don't want the government eating up a bunch of rights, they are offended by this mass incarceration. those of us on the left who care about social justice and racial
justice and those issues, we also are offended. so i have not stopped being a progressive and he has not stopped being a libertarian. if you have any principles at all, they would be offended by what is happening with mass incarceration in the united states. all of us are just standing on our own principles more firmly and standing together. >> well, interestingly, van, some people go back to the clinton administration with the three strikes and you're out and the volume of prisoners, particularly young black men filling up the jails. so it is something both administrations have to account for. i want to ask you, mark, though, because, again, we've talked about drug offenses and others that may not require life imprisonment. let's play a little bit of a back and forth with our pbs colleagues on one particular issue and we'll talk about it. >> i was charged with conspiracy. i was given three separate charges of possession with
intent to distribute cocaine, crack and marijuana. but these were all estimations that somehow turned into actual weight. >> this is because the person you were involved with at the time was dealing drugs and conspiracy meaning you knew about it? >> correct. >> you didn't have to be doing it, but you get his charges anyway? >> yeah. he was deceased so they had nobody to charge. i was the only one left, so they charged me with it. i was initially indicted in 2002, and my case was dismissed. i went ahead and moved on with my life, got married, had kids, and six years later the federal government came and indicted me and i was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. >> so federal drug charges. i see you both shaking your heads because it's so patently unfair. mark, i understand that you spent some time as a prison guard, so you are incredibly, you know, from ground level versed in all of this.
so does this new bill cure, fix, that kind of issue cindy had? >> well, it could. it sounds like she would be eligible for the expanded drug safety valve, particularly as a first-time, nonviolent offender. but, yeah, i worked in a prison when i was in college to pay for college in worcester, massachusetts, my hometown, and it was a very eye-opening experience. it was in the early 1980s. i worked there for about two years, and it was the start of the war on drugs. a lot of my friends were locked up, and their lives were ruined because of drugs. they made some bad choices. we had no rehabilitation programs. there was no such thing as hiring the formerly incarcerated. we had a lock them up, throw away the key, let them out and put them back in type of society. we've had that for too long. what's happened in the sentencing reform bills is going to help these issues. but the drug conspiracy thing is a big deal, and we need to look at that, and it needs to be based not on the fact you might have been in a meeting, it should be based on what your
actual role was in the alleged conspiracy. so someone like the woman who was just speaking, she shouldn't be getting any time at all, if any, especially when they dismissed her case to begin with. people who are kingpins, sure, put them away. the problem is the war on drugs has been a massive fail use, and we still, to this day, are trying to fight it. and what we need to do is look at the criminal elements within that and treat them as crimes and treat them proportionately for what they do. by and large a lot of other people, it's either a public health issue, a poverty issue, or an issue where someone has a substance abuse issue, mental health issue, or maybe they just need a place. they come from a place where they don't have good schools, good programs, any mentoring. let's not just lock them up. we're way too anxious, way too alarmist on these criminal justice issues just to lock people up as the first step, and it shouldn't be that way. there are people who need to be in prison, some for a long time. but most don't, and those who
are in prison, they need to be reap dated. i'll tell you what, what i learned over the years working in a prison and the last 10 or 15 years working on these issues, people can succeed if we allow them to get a second chance. >> that's a really important point. i'm just staggered. you say this woman shouldn't have spent any time in jail probably, and yet she was sentenced at least to 15 years. it is staggering. and this is actually an affront around the world. people look at the united states and are staggered by the prison population. let me ask van because as with this administration, a lot is personal. and we all know that under the obama administration this was prevented from going through, you know, to the senate, i believe, and yet because of the personal intervention from jared kushner, the president's adviser and son-in-law who brought you on and, you know, he also had prison in his family with his father having gone to prison.
so let me just run this bit of an interview with jared in october and we'll talk about it. >> and then somebody in the meeting said to him, you know, when you campaign, you said that you were going to fight for the forgotten men and women of this country, and there's nobody more forgotten or underrepresented than the people in prison. look, i talk to the president all the time, and i know sometimes when i tell him something and he's listening but not really wanting to listen to me. i know when he's listening and it penetrates. i could tell right then that this really hit him in his heart. >> i think it's extraordinary really. tell me a little bit more about the white house meetings because famously kim kardashian west came to the white house. there was alice johnson, who the president pardoned. what was going through the president's mind when it came to, you know, releasing people who had been sentenced as hard criminals? >> fear initially. i was honored to get a chance to have these discussions and be a
part of this process and fear. there's a concern that almost all politicians in the u.s. have if they do something on this issue, helping the constituency that in some states can't even vote. they don't make campaign contributions, and yet if you make a mistake and the wrong person gets out or does something foolish, then you could lose your political career. donald trump was not exempt at all. a big part of what kim kardashian and myself were doing getting his head wrapped around the importance of using his influence to take action anyway and also helping him to understand that this is not crazy. texas, georgia, even mississippi, red states with hard core conservative governors have moved and taken action and proven that you can reduce the incarcerated population and by so doing bring down the crime rate. when you have big, swollen prison populations, people who shouldn't be in there in the first place come home bitter and not better and you make the problem worse. he finally got comfortable with
it. jared, because his father went to prison, he was passionate about the issue in a way he wouldn't have been. he's not exceptional in that regard. most of the people who fought the hardest are people who either themselves went to prison or had a family member or a loved one, even koch industries, part of their passion is because they saw one of their employees get caught up in some nonsense and that woke them up. jessica jackson, 50, a heroic leader from the left, her first husband went to prison. david casaban, a hero here on the right, he went to prison. he went to prison and came out as a conservative fighting on these issues. this issue of mass incarceration has touched so many people and so many families that you now have a lot of people, not just jared kushner, who feel personally that something has to change, and that's why we were able to win. >> there's no doubt that something had to change and it's interesting to see this process
and to see actually how politicians when it's this important and for whatever personal reasons that everybody can gather around it makes a difference. so let me just ask you, mark, to flesh out what van was saying. the koch foundation, is it to better your image, is it because of what you think is a travesty of justice during an environmental prosecution back in 2000? >> let's remove these barriers for opportunity for all americans. that's what happens in our criminal justice system. we have a two-tiered system. the rich and guilty get a petter deal than the poor. >> amen. >> and so what we need to do is
make sure that we have a system that serves all of us and we should not have a resources based system. you mentioned koch, we were able to fight back against the government, but if you're a middle class, working class, if you are someone who are the least among us living in really desperate circumstances. >> forget it. >> you can't do it. it's a situation where you're in the system and don't have resources and you don't have support, you're pretty much branded for life with the scarlet letter f and that's completely up fair. so that's why we're very focused on all aspects. >> absolutely. >> look, we've got to get past this. there's something that's going on now where people on both sides assume that if you're a progressive, every conservative is up to no good. if you're a conservative, every liberal is just a raise-baiting person who wants to take you down for no reason. what we found in the past nine months the problem in the united states is different than we thought. the problem is not that we've got too many awful people who
are dumb and mean. the problem is we have too many awesome people on all sides who don't know each other, don't know how to talk to each other and have not found a way to work together. yes, there are some mean, dumb people on both sides, but we have a superabundance of good people who just have not found a way to work together. i have actual friends, not just a great political alliance, actual friends i care about on a personal level and i believe in and i can trust at least on this issue to do what they say and to say what they do. mean what they say. there's medicine here for the sick system coming out of this very unlikely fight. i no longer second-guess the conservatives and libertarians. this is an authentic movement on both sides. >> let me ask you this then. you talk about mean, dumb people on all sides and let's face it,
part of the fact that this hasn't happened yet was because of opposition within the republican party, as i mentioned, and some are still strongly opposed like senator tom cotton. i will play this sound bite and will have you talk about it, mark and van. >> they are releasing thousands of serious repeat and violent offenders within weeks or months of this bill being passed. it's almost certain they will commit terrible crimes. drug dealers and other offenders by up to half and sending a message we are taking for granted the gains we've made us a cited from a crime wave in the '70s and '80s when we got tough on crime, we had truth in sentences and extended prison sentences, tock away the discretion liberal judges have. i worry very much this will mean dangerous streets for our communities and families. >> mark, can you address that in 30 seconds. >> yeah. i disagree with what senator cotton said, with all due respect. he should look at his home state
and what they are doing at and look at the states we were talking about. >> georgia, mississippi. we now go on and on and on. we now have a system where people are allowed to get better, rehabilitated. it's not about punitive measures. they can get a second chance and we're hopeful that recidivism rates go down. hopefully it's not in the bill. >> it's not what's working in america. >> van, in 20 seconds if this is about 10% of the federal prison inmate, what about the rest of the 90% of the inmates around the country? >> that's the great thing about this. everybody goes you're just focusing on the federal system and only 10% of people locked up are in the federal system. the other 90% in the state system. guess what. we've already had three governors call and say they want to do the same thing in their states we did at the federal level. what you're going to see is a trickle down immediately next
year as other governors and other states pick this up. this is a breakthrough. this will lead to other breakthroughs and i'm proud today for the first time in a long time, i'm proud of our political system because some decency and wisdom is now punching through. >> well, van and mark, thank you so much. this has real been a pleasure to see success. thank you very much, indeed. and from one dynamic duo to another, we shift gears. we have john c. reilly and john coogan with a walk down memory lane and into the comedy hall of fame with the new film "stan and olly." which are it is, of course, about the legendary laurel and hardy who were on a tour of britain in the 1950s as they struggled to keep their act together. when i spoke to them recently, coogan and reilly told me what it was like to fill their iconic laughs and why this is an anecdote for these times.
john c. reilly and steve coogan, welcome to the program >> thank you very much. >> nice to be here. >> so what enticed to you do laurel and hardy? i mean, are they still relevant? >> i think they're very much still relevant. what enticed me was our great director john baird who offered me this role in the first place. it was very intim dating, and like some very big shoes to fill because i do think they still relevant. in fact, i think, christiane, after this interview, if you watch one of their shorts from the early '30s, i guarantee you will laugh out loud at least up time. that shows you the relevancy right there. >> yeah, i concur with john completely. laurel and hardy's humor transcends fashion and time and is more relevant than the comedy that came after it. it's very accessible. it has a good heart. it lifts people up. it's not denigrating.
it has a -- >> there's a universality to it. >> a universality to it and a great affection for the human race. it may seem -- people say is it innocent? it's not. it's quite subtle, a lot of it. people also forget that laurel and hardy were globally successful during the great depression in america and during the rise of fascism in europe. you know, you don't see any of that when you watch it, but you need to know that that's the background against which it was hugely successful. >> yeah. and i was going to say an amazing antidote to our fractious, incredibly, i don't know, hate filled, tense, stressful, tribalized. but when you mention they rose during an even more dangerous period in history, it really does make you stop and think. i mean, 1937 i think is about where they started. and it's remarkable. i want to play a part, a little
clip that we have which shows them sort of at the beginning of their careers after this long, long opening tracking shot and laurel and hardy end up talking to the producer about their sort of artistic demands. here is the clip. >> what are you looking for, stan? >> i'm looking for a fair price for a laurel and hardy picture and you know it. our pictures sell all around the world and we haven't got a dime. >> it's because we keep getting divorced. >> he's a cheapskate that got rich off of our backs. >> oh, come on. >> he's a cheapskate and a parvenue. he thinks because my contacts, i'll have to take what he's offering. >> wait, wait, wait. what's a parvenue? >> someone who started out with nothing, got rich but has no class. look it up in the dictionary. there's a picture of you. >> you think you're a smartass, right? >> guess what, i'm smarter. has he told you yet? we're setting up on our own. >> it might be best if you could see your way to a small raise. >> you're setting up on your own?
how about this, still under contract with me and i ain't releasing him. >> you can't have hardy without laurel. >> that's what you think. >> they tried to play hardball but then what happened? pick up the story. >> well, what happened is hal roach spaced their contract six months apart. so anyto imone of them explained, he said, well, i'll just get another fat guy or another skinny guy, and he plays them against each other like that. what happened was stan finally got fed up and stan did get them a deal at 20th century fox and oliver had six more months on his contract. there's rub. ies that one of the significant parts of their contract, when hall had to start working for hal without stan. we explore that portrayal in the
film. it's one of the few moments of conflict. >> the film charts of europe and britain in the 1950s when they were already washed up and it's about how people deal with having been at the top of their game and then suddenly they're forgotten and rejected and trying to earn a few sheckles touring around britain to pay the rent. >> i myself think of a vaudeville career. one thing i can always do. i can always sing a couple songs, make some folks laugh. >> what is heartwarming and uplifting, christiane, when they finished touring europe, they still love comedy and the ability to make people laugh. this film for us is a love letter to those who toil to make us laugh, because however the throweaway and ephemeral and disposable and silly the comedy of laurel and hardy seernlgs the work and craft that goes on behind the scenes that we look at is staggering.
it occurred to me -- it occurred to me that, you know, in our salute to stan and ollie, what we're recognizing is something that only really occurred to me when we were rehearsing the movie, the ability to make a whole group of people laugh at the same time people from different religious, creeds, different viewpoints. that's what they were able to do. that's an incredibly powerful from that perspective and in that moment when they all laugh, at that moment everyone's differences recede. >> time we set the film in, this twilight of their careers, they could have been at home collecting social security or pension or whatever, they were still trying to engage with their fans and they still felt obligated to bring the special joy that only they could bring. you see in our film the great personal cost of that kind of devotion to your craft. >> and what's kind of remarkable is it seems that they go out and they play all these stages and
theaters and they're really, really loved there. they're not so appreciated by the industry. is that right? >> right. they were finding it really difficult to get movie work. in some ways after world war ii the world had kind of moved on past the sweet humanism of laurel and hardy and more exceptionalist american smart alek, caustic, some other came in, dean martin and jerry lewis. yeah, they couldn't get arrested in america. so what they did is they went out and sought the people that still loved them, and they were offered this tour by this guy, and they did a few of them actually. we focused on the last one, but they went where they were loved. the irony was at first the audiences couldn't even believe that they were there.
we make a joke of it in the film about the people coming to the box office and say who go is playing laurel and hardy? the box office telling people no, it's them. it's them. just buy a ticket. it's really them. that what happened on these tours. oh, my gosh, we can still go see laurel and hardy, and by the end they were embraced by the theater audiences. the sad thing is they didn't get their due as film artists while they were alive. >> your director has also said it's a little like a love story. the love story between stan and ollie, the deep friendship, the fact that they stayed together through thick and thin and tistic differences and contract differences. >> it is a love story, and i think it acts as a metaphor for these people who have spent so many years working with each other, they've fallen out and they have had their differences. but the one thing that they are still there for each other, even in -- in both their private
lives and in their movies, their funny movies. whatever bad luck or misfortune about falls stan, usually ollie, they all stay with each other. >> that seems to be the meta message of laurel and hardy's work but the message of our film for our world right now is that even though human beings can be difficult and argumentative and get you into trouble they're still worth loving. everyone is worth love and dignity, and that's still a very appealing message to me. >> i think people responded to the movie because of the underlying goodness. there's in these days there's a cynical view to be positive or try to found the hope and humanity is naive or somehow dumb, and this movie shows that there's kind of a hunger, a sort of a thirst for something which
is, you know, life-affirming which i think this film is. >> i want to play a clip actually. the one we showed is from the film "way out west," and we're going to play the real laurel and hardy singing the song that you sort of re-enact in the film. here it is. ♪ ♪ in the blue ridge mountains of virginia ♪ ♪ on the trail of the lonesome pine ♪ ♪ in the blue ridge mountains of virginia ♪ ♪ on the trail of the lonesome pine ♪ ♪ in the pale moon shine our hears entwine ♪ ♪ she called the name and i called mine ♪ ♪ like the mountains i'm blue ♪ like the pine i'm lonesome for
you ♪ ♪ in the blue ridge mountains of virginia ♪ ♪ on the trail of the lonesome pine ♪ >> well, equally entertaining was watching you two chitchat amongst yourselves and re-enact while we were playing the clip. can you give me a little rendition? i mean, are you up for it? >> oh, it's so early here in new york. >> well, i mean, you know, i can scratch my head like this and make lots of faces and apologize. >> was it daunting to try to pull that off? >> it was. it was. for that number, that "lonesome pine" number and for the "way out west" dance we took a forensic approach. we tried to re-create it exactly as we could. mistakes and shambly moments included.
that's not the meat of our film. the heart of the film is this emotional biography, the relationship between these two men, because this tour -- these tours, that's the time when laurel and hardy learned to love each other as human beings. when they actually finally saw the person next to them and loved them beyond the act or beyond what they were doing together as a partnership, just seeing the human being, because when they were in their heyday, they were very different people and oliver would go off in his life. he had wine, women and song sort of life and enjoying the fruits of holiday and stan was a workaholic and they very rarely socialized in their heyday. it's an evocative time to set the film. >> it's interesting because at the end, in the film we see that stan and ollie go to judge a bathing suit contest. ollie is not very well. >> a real thing they did. >> so tell us about that.
it leads, again, to a real bonding. >> well, oliver is struggling with his health as he did in real life during these tours. he passed away shortly after the last tour. so, yeah, in our film we go to one of these publicity events and we just had a big fight the night before and you think like maybe this is it for them, that they finally had it with each other and then there's a health crisis, a big health crisis with oliver, an existential cries for the act and it's a real reckoning moment when sudan and ollie, you know, have to put aside whatever the petty disagreement of that argument was about. realize the larger human truth with each other. it's a beautiful moment. it makes me tear up not because of my own performance but i'm remembering what it must have been like for these two geniuses. >> what were you going to say, steve? >> you said it so eloquently, john. i couldn't possibly add anything
to it. >> but stan got into bed with laurel and sort comforted him, right? i mean with ollie. >> and that was a very, those moments of poignancy were real for john and i when we were doing it. it felt authentic. we had a long rehearsal period where john and i had to learn these routines and sketches and the physicality of how these guys moved. but what happened during that process is that john and i obviously got to know each other, and we got to experience some of what laurel and hardy would have done because they themselves would have had to work intensively on these things. so it was like physically and metaphorically stepping into the shoes of these guys and that actually bonds you. john and i went on a journey together. when those poignant moments happen, they feel real. they could have been between john and myself and there's a coalescence. >> we've been clowns ourselves for quite a while. >> yes, indeed. i was going to say --
>> performers for a long time now and we understand what it's like to have sore knees and a sweaty brow and sitting backstage and having someone talk to us about ticket sales. >> yeah. >> so in some ways there were very big shoes to fill, and in other ways there were very familiar shoes to fill. >> yeah. >> you both have done quite a lot of comedy in your films and in your past. perhaps steve coogan you looked more like the actual laurel, but, john, had you to do a lot of prosthetics, right, to get into the roundness of ollie. >> we both wore prosthetic pieces. steve's chin was elongated and his ears were made longer. actually, if you look at our faces, oliver and myself, at first you think like oh, no, they're very different, but in fact i'm just sort of a skinnier version of oliver in some ways with blue eyes. so when you expand my
proportions, you know, i'm the right height. my ears are very similar to his. >> i'm the right height, too. we had to switch eye colors. that was the only thing. >> it was clever. >> mark coulier was an award-winning makeup artist and designed the prosthetics for the film. he took -- he brilliantly took what parts of us already looked like them and altered the parts that didn't so that i never felt like the prosthetic was getting in the way of the performance. it was there as something i could use but it was up to me to project the soul of this person. i wasn't trapped behind the mask. >> we were anxious about it and it we had to do some tests before john and i were convinced that it was the right way to go, but mark is so skilled that it's almost invisible. as you say, it doesn't distract at all. you weren't aware of it. >> yours were almost as invisible, steve, as laurel.
john, i keep wanting to call you oliver. you were in a big fat suit only your eyes and your hands were your own, right, or showing? >> the center of my face was my own and the insides of my hands. that's about it. prosthetic pieces on my arm and all around my face creating, that you know, that weight and then, yes, a fat suit which i had them add extra weights to so it would always feel like the left of that. i didn't want it to look like someone flitting around in a foam bubble. but i have to say, you know, people are dazzled by the exterior of the work of the artist who made us look so much like them. to me the process was an internal process, the romantic inside this guy. this big markings you know. inside he had the heart of a poet. he was a really beautiful guy. what the makeup and costume did allowed us through the first
portal, it allowed us the courage to pass through that first portal of transformation and say, well, at least i look like him. now i have to find the inner part of these guys, and that's something that steve and i both had to do in equal measure. >> i don't know how you perceive it but is laurel the secondary character in the on stage act because in real life it turned out that laurel was the main writer, the much more sort of powerful creative voice. >> yeah. there's certainly some truth in that. ostensibly oliver is kind of in charge. >> yeah. it's almost like another one of the laurel and hardy meta joe, you know. they played with that all the time, you know, the opposite being something appearing one way and the truth of it being the opposite. >> yeah. >> over and over they played with that contrast joke. behind the scenes stan was doing all the work writing, shadow directing the film.
>> we always say that stanley lived to work and oliver worked to live. and that meant that oliver had a more enjoyable, on balance happier life than stan laurel who subjugated himself to his work like many artists and many geniuses. whose work subsumes them and their personal life is sacrificed on the altar of that creativity. >> what is next for you two gentlemen? presumably separately, what's the next film? >> i don't know. actually we constantly talk about finding something else together because we really enjoyed being together. i've come to love steve so i hope we do find something soon.
you're the stan person. >> we'll figure something out. >> thank you, steve coogan and john c. reilly. thank you for being with us. the movie releases in the united states next week. now climate change has dominated the headlines this year. wildfires devastating california. yellow vest anger at a carbon tax in photographs. schoolchildren protesting by cutting class from sweden to australia, but what are nations not making headlines like vietnam or somalia? how are they bearing the brunt of the ticking climate clock? our next guest smeby sengupta reports on the human toll of climate change from all corners of the globe. she is part of "the new york times" team dedicated to climate coverage. so as the year wraps up somini took our michel martin on a global climate tour. >> somini, thank you so much for talking with us. >> thank you for having me. >> "the new york times" is one of the only news organizations to have a team dedicated to covering climate change.
why is that? >> we have a team dedicated to covering climate because it's a really important issue for our audience. this year in 20818 you're seen that our coverage has done really three kinds of stories. we have explained the science of climate change, we have born witness to the impact of climate change on the lives of ordinary people all over the world, and we have doggedly probed, investigated what the u.s. government is doing. >> this whole argument there is an argument, when did "the times" decide that has to be over? in mainstream journalism the way we deal with things that are sticky and uncomfortable is to make everything a matter of opinion, some people think this and some people think that and "the times" said, enough of that. we're going to establish this is a fact and going to deal with it as a fact. when did that happen, and why do you think that's important? >> you know, the simplest way to explain this is there is no debate among scientists, about
what happens when we inject greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. you inject greenhouse gases, the average temperature rises. that's not really a matter of debate. the science is very clear about that. and so our coverage is very clear about that. there can be debates about what policy measures you take, but on the actual science of how climate change impacts the planet, there's scientific consensus including in the last intergovernmental panel on climate change which consists of hundreds of scientists from all over the world including the united states. so we don't think it helps the public. it doesn't help our readers to not get it straight. >> what are the biggest climate change stories of the year? >> i'm part of a team of roughly a dozen reporters and editors.
we have looked, for example, at the human toll of climate change in all kinds of ways. so we've written about -- i went to northern kenya not so long ago to write about communities who made their living raising animals. but because the droughts have gotten so severe, so prolonged, repeated year after year, and that has a climate change fingerprint, that i was talking to men and women who were saying, you know, one week i wake up and five of my animals are dead. next week, ten of my animals are dead. at the end of the season i've lost my herd. i borrow some money. i replenish my herd. next year, the same thing happens. it's a way of life and livelihoods that are threatened amongst some of the poorest people in the world. >> you're talking about whole communities. >> whole communities some of whom are the most vulnerable.
some of whom have a very small carbon footprint. they're not driving cars. some don't have access to electricity. so we have covered those kinds of stories all over the world. my colleague went up to canada to write about how backyard skating rinks, ice skating rinks, were fading. this is also, you know, a way of life. we've done a whole series about our shared cultural heritage and the risk that climate change poses. there's fantastic stories about easter island which is a very small island off the coast of chile with ancient stone carvings that are now facing the risk of sea rise and eroding away. the cedars of lebanon endangered by climate change, the heating up of that area. so we've looked at how individual lives are changing.
we've looked at how communities are being affected. we've looked at the economic costs. sea rise, of course, affects coastal cities. some of our most important cities around the world. stock markets and airports are on that coast. so many of your viewers will have flown into shanghai or rome or san francisco, new york. all of these are barely five meters above sea level, and we've written about how that's going to be affected by the ever-rising sea. >> how many of the world's conflicts in the current moment are tied to climate change, would you say? >> it's extremely difficult to draw a straight line between climate change and conflict. however, if climate change exacerbates water scarcity or just the ability to grow food it is likely to lead to some forced
displacement of people. it could lead to conflict. the clearest example that i can refer to is perhaps somalia after recurrent years of drought. many somalis had to leave their homelands. they had to, you know, find -- >> find somewhere to go. >> find somewhere to go, find new ways of making a living. al shabab certainly took advantage of that. >> but there is a major growing consensus in the international community about the need to deal with this. i mean, there was just a major meeting that just wrapped up in poland. >> oh, absolutely. we are three years after the paris agreement. the paris agreement was an aspirational global accord whereby every country around the world recognized first that climate change is a reality and that everyone -- every country
should do their part to ratchet down greenhouse gas emissions. these were voluntary pledges. every country said, okay, by this year we're going to ratchet down our emissions or peak our emissions. if we're a growing country, we're going to peak our emissions and then bring them down. where do we stand on that right now? well, two of the biggest economies, also the biggest emitters -- china and the united states -- grew their emissions in 2018. kept rising. even as the science got sharper and sharper, even as the scientists kept saying, wait. this train is already hurtling to the cliff. >> when you say the scientists got sharper, what do you mean? >> the scientists understand much better the risks of climate change. there was a landmark report that my colleague wrote about earlier this year about what happens if the current trajectory of
emissions goes up at this current pace. we have continued since the beginning of the industrial age to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. temperatures have already risen since the start of the industrial era. there's this very cool story that one of my colleagues worked on that you can hit your hometown at the year of your birth and see how many hot days, like days above 90 degrees, there were in your hometown the year of your birth, how many there are now and how many scientists are projecting to be there when you're 80. and that's just a really incredibly stark way to see what's happening even in our lifetimes in places that we recognize. so earlier this year the intergovernmental panel on climate change put out what, to me, was really just a very stark report that showed if our
emissions continue at this trajectory by 2040 the world faces much more heightened risks of severe droughts. much more extremes in rainfall. so too much rain, too little rain, wildfires, coastal flooding because of sea level rise by the year 2040. 2040 is my lifetime. i have a 10-year-old kid. 2040 is when she's just kind of establishing herself, right, as an adult. scientists also said this is not inevitable. none of this is inevitable. there are things that we can do to bend the curve, but that has to be done really quickly. three years after the paris agreement, where are we after -- where are we in bending the curve even after scientists have been ringing the alarm bell and as one scientist said in the
international talks in poland. scientists have been ringing the aharm but presidents and world leaders keep hitting the snooze button. >> this argument that there is an argument about it, what is that about? >> there are powerful industrial interests, there are powerful industries with interests in fossil fuels continuing to play the role that they have. i went and traveled recently to do a story about coal and coal's abiding influence in the world. it has fired the modern age, of course. everything around us, the modern industrial era is fueled by coal but it's also the dirtiest fossil fuel around, and we're now at the point where we know, scientists know, they're very clear on this, that the way to avert the worst effects of climate change is to get the
world off of coal, and yet there are very powerful interests that keep us invested in coal. it still accounts for 40% of global electricity. i was in vietnam where both chinese and japanese companies were competing to promote coal in vietnam. a fast growing economy. it's a powerful incumbent. it's hard to knock it off its pedestal. >> and what about the united states? what role do you think the united states is playing in the climate change big picture and conversation right now? >> in the big picture. on coal i just want to point out that in the united states coal consumption has markedly declined because of the abundance of natural gas. as my colleagues have shown there have been real efforts to roll back, for example, the clean power plan that would force the older, most polluting coal plants to shut down.
overall the united states has, of course, announced its intention to pull out of the paris climate agreement. just to be clear the paris climate agreement is not other countries telling each country what to do but each country voluntarily setting its own pledges on how to bring down emissions. the u.s. has said it's not in its interests. this administration has said it intends to pull out of the paris agreement, but the actual exit doesn't take place until 2020. it's just the way the agreement is crafted. this year the united states sent a delegation to the international talks in poland and promoed fossil fuels at a side event and also took part in the negotiations because the united states still remains in the negotiations. there is a great deal of concern about the trump administration's
position that it will not contribute the kind of money the united states was expected to help poor countries deal with the effects of climate change. most importantly what you're seeing at home is the rollback of a host of environmental protections. and we did a story not long ago that showed 76 separate environmental rules that the trump administration has pulled back on and it includes things like oil and gas companies not having to report their methane emissions anymore, for example, or rolling back fuel efficiency standards. and, of course, the clean power plant. >> i was curious to see if you've spoken to anybody deeply connected to those industries and asked them what planet they think they're going to live on if the policies that they continue to defend and embrace continue.
>> my colleagues have done incredible work drawing the line between particular environmental rollbacks that this administration has pursued and the interests of industries and they have done incredible work showing the ties of the former epa administrator scott prewitt, for example, to coal administrator. the former epa administrator is a former coal lobbyist. my colleagues have done incredibly dogged work on that. there are many industries, many sectors that are now realizing there is public pressure. shareholder pressure, policy pressure to ratchet down their own greenhouse gas emissions. and we're seeing that from shipping companies to fast food companies and lots of other companies to at least set targets. now the proof is in the pudding, right?
are they going to be able to retool their businesses fast enough to save us from this brink of catastrophic climate change. >> somini sengupta, thank you for talking with us. >> thank you. >> increasingly, activists, especially younger ones are stepping up urgent calls for government and media to make 2019 the year that saving our environment moves to the top of the agenda. tomorrow we'll dyche deep near that policy with a new wave of politicians in the united states and europe and tock tech journalist kara swisher on the latest facebook revelations. that's it for now. >> uniworld is a proud sponsor of aymanor & co."
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this is "nightly business report" with bill griffeth and sue herera. wall street angst. the dow falls below 23,000 as investors find a number of reasons to sell stocks. spending standingoff. the president demands money for his border wall, raising the possibility of a partial government shutdown. just do it. and that is what nike did, running past wall street's earnings estimates as it faces a number of global challenges. those stories and more ton "nightly business report" for this thursday, december 20th. and we do bid you a good evening, everybody. and welcome. wall street was once again rocked with equities b a