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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
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MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: All your apps.
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AMANPOUR: So much power, so many complaints. So, should giant tech companies be broken up now to protect the common good? I’m joined by
Google’s former CE, Eric Schmidt, and one of its current directors.
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GLENDA JACKSON, ACTRESS, “KING LEAR”: Expose yourself to fear.
AMANPOUR: Power and politics in the court of “King Lear”. Legendary actress, Glenda Jackson, has been taking Broadway by storm, gender bending
Shakespeare’s tragic hero at 83.
Then, the new kid on the block, 19-year-old director, Phillip Youmans, makes history at the Tribeca Film Festival and sits down with our Alicia
Menendez to tell his amazing story.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
So, has big tech finally just gotten too big and too powerful? As Silicon Valley dives ever deeper and deeper into our lives, there are rising calls
for oversight. When it comes to regulation, though, Europe is leading the United States. And the summit in Paris this week with tech and world
leaders is trying to get to grips with the idea of all-powerful monopolies, invasion of privacy and democracy, the spread of extremism and violence.
The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is coming to co-chair the meeting and rally support for the Christchurch call, that’s a pledge names
for the massacres there when a White nationalist mowed down 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques and live streamed it on Facebook. And tomorrow,
I’ll sit down with the prime minister in Paris to hear about her hopes to eliminate extremism online.
Ardern’s host and co-chair will, of course, be the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and he has just met with Mark Zuckerberg, as the Facebook
founder continues his worldwide efforts at damage control while rejecting one of his own co-founders calls for Facebook to finally be broken up.
Now, unsurprisingly, tech leaders claim they are best placed to self- regulate, and they reject government intervention. I asked the former CEO and chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, and Alan Eagle, who is company
director, what it would take to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to online content. They join me to discuss their new book, “Trillion
Dollar Coach,” about Bill Campbell, the football coach who became a guru in Silicon Valley because of his teachings on ethical leadership.
Eric Schmidt, Alan Eagle, welcome to the program.
Look, we are talking in a really heightened state of attention on the social giants, the big tech giants. You know that President Macron of
France is talking to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, also to the prime minister of New Zealand in the wake of this horror in Christchurch, which
was, to an extent, aided and abetted and supported by violent extremist content online.
So, what do you think about the state of your big companies right now? Is there room? Is it time to make some dramatic changes in solutions? First,
since you were CEO.
ERIC SCHMIDT, FORMER GOOGLE CEO AND CO-AUTHOR, “TRILLION DOLLAR COACH”: Well, I always worry about regulation, which is around the current problem
and not fixing the real problem. I think it’s much better when the tech giants, as you call them, work on solving this themselves. Each company is
In Google’s case we worked really, really hard to find and detect evil things that violate our policies and take them down super quickly. There’s
furthermore promise that A.I. will allow this to be detected automatically.
AMANPOUR: What about you? I mean, they — you are giants. I mean, you’ve dominated the landscape ever since sort of, you know, this started. What
do you think? Because everybody says, yes, you know, these companies should regulate themselves. We don’t want government, et cetera. But the
U.S. is playing catch up to Europe where there is regulation and to a growing clamor amongst people for some kind of more responsible attitude
toward what’s out there.
ALAN EAGLE, DIRECTOR OF GOOGLE AND CO-AUTHOR, “TRILLION DOLLAR COACH”: I can just tell you from what’s going on day-to-day inside the company as a
director on the sales team, people are working very hard every day to do the right thing.
As Eric was talking about, you know, in an open web, it’s going to be a constant battle of people putting up bad things and we try to find them and
bring them down as quickly as possible. But the company really is trying very hard working very hard on these every day.
AMANPOUR: So, I’m going to play a soundbite from Senator Kamala Harris, one of the presidential candidates. And she along with Senator Elizabeth
Warren are very clear about what they say they want to do, and that is sort of a breakup of the giant companies. This is what she said recently.
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SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to recognize it for what it is, it is essentially a utility that has gone unregulated. And
as far as I’m concerned, that’s got to stop.
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AMANPOUR: I mean, she is talking sense, right? It’s gone unregulated, and to a great degree, I mean, Google, Facebook, all the others, have not done
enough, according to her and according to many people, to regulate themselves.
SCHMIDT: She’s also running for president.
SCHMIDT: As is her competitor, Elizabeth Warren. There’s no basis in law to break up these companies in the U.S. And fundamentally, the breakup
would increase costs. It’s far, far better for the companies to try to figure out how to solve this problem.
The people inside these companies don’t want this stuff to happen either. The fact of the matter is that a very small percentage of humans do really
bad things. We need to get better at detecting these things and stopping it.
AMANPOUR: What would you then say when you say there’s no basis in law or we the companies should do it ourselves and not have government — what
then is a solution?
SCHMIDT: Well, as I said, the computer industry as a whole, and each of the companies, YouTube does a fantastic job of this, detect bad stuff
automatically using various mathematical techniques in history and so forth. And the things that are put up are taken down in a very few number
of seconds. That’s probably the state of the art right now and it’s getting better and better.
I don’t know how, in a world where humans can upload over and over again things which are evil, how you can prevent that without having a censorship
regime. Do you really want to put in government censors on what people say? I don’t think so.
AMANPOUR: You describe it as censorship. This is what Chris Hughes, I realize he’s not a Google employee or founder, but he was one of the
founders of Facebook and he’s been getting a huge amount of attention because he’s said it’s time for Mark Zuckerberg’s power to be reduced by
breaking up Facebook. And particularly, he’s talked about readdressing the acquisitions that Facebook made of WhatsApp and Instagram. This is what he
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CHRIS HUGHES, CO-FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: We shouldn’t need to just trust the private sector to do the right thing. I mean, we don’t do that with
airlines, we don’t do that with pharmaceutical companies, we don’t do that with the financial industry, we don’t do that with health care. We say we
want competition. We understand that dynamic markets are a good thing, but we want to also ensure that there’s a baseline level of protection.
And the fact we haven’t gotten there with digital companies, I think is a testament to how quickly not just Facebook but Google, Amazon, Apple, all
of them have grown.
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AMANPOUR: The big four giants. And again, you know, you said there’s no basis in law, but there is in — there’s precedent in the United States for
breaking up some of these big companies.
SCHMIDT: Not on —
SCHMIDT: Yes. Not under the current set of laws in the U.S. If you follow Chris’ arguments, he’s fundamentally arguing for very slow rates of
innovation. He benefited from the fact that Facebook’s entry into an open web allowed the creation of an enormous achievement, which was Facebook at
the time. He benefited personally from that.
Do you really want to slow that down by a factor of 10? Look at the rate of innovation in health care and aviation and industries that he named. I
would prefer to have the innovation run forward and then when things happen, let’s get together and figure out a way to solve them. Let’s
figure out how to not prematurely regulate these industries.
AMANPOUR: I hear you keep saying that and realize you’re saying that from your, you know, innovator, business perspective. I understand that. It’s
also a massively profit-making business, there’s no doubt about it. And Chris Hughes, to be fair, does not attack Mark Zuckerberg personally. He
says he even thinks that Mark Zuckerberg thinks that he’s got too much power and that’s just too much power in any democracy.
Your book, the “Trillion Dollar Coach.” I mean, you lion eyes this wonderful man, Bill Campbell, who has been so front and center of the
Silicon Valley, of the innovation, and also of the ethic. I mean, the book really does focus on his ethic in business.
How does that fit in to where we are now? I mean, even if you don’t like the idea of regulation, because after all, Americans, you know, are
unregulatable and we don’t like censorship, and entrepreneurship is, you know, has to happen come what may. But surely there is today a common good
that does need the kind of ethics that your book focuses on to be involved.
EAGLE: Well, Bill was a football coach, American football, before he became — went into business. For him it was all about the team and the
good of the team. And so, when he would be looking, we can’t assume what he would say today if he were dealing with some of these issues, but what
he could look at is, what is the team? Who are the right people working on it, and are they the right people? Are they coachable? Are they people
who learn as they go and are they focused on integrity and doing the right thing?
So, it isn’t so much — he wouldn’t talk to us about what should you do, but he’d look at, what is the right team? Is the right team looking at it
and do they have the right ethics along with the other traits that (INAUDIBLE)?
AMANPOUR: I just wonder what you as people and as tech innovators vested in this company particularly think when you see a Christchurch where it was
live streamed and only apparently 4,000 people saw it live but then it was replicated so many times. All of Putin, et cetera, interfering in our laws
or the violence against women and other stuff we see.
SCHMIDT: It’s always a shock to discover that there’s evil in the world. But the evil was there before Google, Facebook —
AMANPOUR: But it was never so exponentially distributed.
SCHMIDT: It was certainly present and that evil now use the latest tools. That doesn’t mean that the tools themselves are evil. It means that the
toolmakers have to figure out ways to make sure this stuff is not misused.
In the cases you’re citing, it’s probably possible to detect this kind of behavior algorithmically that is very quickly. So, when something bad
comes up, basically, not only stop it but prevent it from being replicated. YouTube does this quite well.
YouTube had this problem over a decade. And what would happen is, people who were insane or evil or what have you would keep uploading bad stuff,
especially if it was pornographic. And we developed ways to not only to detect it but also prevent it.
The solution to this is to make sure that the common space follows the guidelines of (INAUDIBLE). None of the companies you named have guidelines
which allow the kind of evil you’re describing. It’s their job, our job, to police that.
AMANPOUR: Correct. I mean, obviously, none of you would allow that kind of stuff. I mean, It’s so awful. But just as you said that the internet
had to start policing pornography and terrorism as well. I mean, when there’s an ISIS thing, people try to take it down or you all try to take it
down as quickly as possible.
SCHMIDT: So, we’re clear, all of this content is not okay with any of these companies. There’s no company saying, “Hey, we want more of this.”
They all want less of it. Give us the time to build the systems that detect it but don’t otherwise harm innovation and free speech.
AMANPOUR: I mean, I guess it just always comes back to, particularly in the world that we’re living in right now. First of all, it’s not just
antitrust, it’s the wholesale violation of privacy and in some cases, massive technological, you know, surveillance state that in some countries
is being enabled by all of this. But it just does go on. I mean, it does, and it is hard for people now to accept that it’s a big moneymaker for you
all at their cost. Given the fact that it’s also massively helpful in so many parts of the endeavor.
SCHMIDT: Well, would you prefer these services all charge their actual rates and rather than be free? Would you prefer that they have registered
users, as you have in China, where all of a sudden, the government knows exactly what their use is? There are real trade-offs here.
And while we focus on these exceptions, which are bad exceptions, let’s not forget the good, right? These are platforms which are broadly available.
There are multibillions of people using them. They’ve brought enormous benefits of knowledge. If you look at the developing world it has an
access to information, access to health care. The empowerment of new competitors and the empowerment of interview entrants. Over and over and
over again, the number of companies that have been abled by these technologies is extraordinary.
AMANPOUR: I mean, look, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. However, there is absolutely — the good news, would you prefer this or that? Well,
I belong to a profession that is regulated, you know. And I’m a member of the press with the First Amendment right behind me constitutionally. But
nonetheless, there are things we cannot say or do in our profession.
So, let’s get back to the “Trillion Dollar Coach,” because he is really an interesting man. And when he talks about leadership, which I actually
think is fascinating, particularly in this world, what makes a great leader? What — is it about just winning? Is it about subjugation and
dominance? And he — you quote him or you write about him. He says, “You need to,” according to a 1994 study, “go beyond the traditional notion of
managing that focuses on controlling, supervising, evaluating and rewarding/punishing to create a climate of communication, respect, feedback
and trust. All through coaching.”
Tell me how that plays out then in your experience? What did he teach you all, and how does that come into play in these positions of really huge
leadership and power that you have?
SCHMIDT: So, as you talked about it, these are incredibly stressful and important decisions. And the question is, not what the decision should be.
Bill would teach who is taking the decision and how do you get the right people.
And he would often say the problem is you have the people who think they know the answer. Let’s go find the smartest people, get them and work on
it really quickly. Over and over again at Google, we found small groups of people who are incredibly expert, who had an idea to solve the problems
that you named or others, and we relied on them. The right thing happened.
What the coach told us was it’s a coaching mechanism and it’s a team sport, right? Everyone is focused on the leader by name. Everyone knows the
famous leaders of these companies and the famous founders, but you forget there are hundreds and hundreds of people who are working with them to
collectively make this happen.
This book is about coaching the whole team. I would argue, by the way, that this is a new Silicon Valley export. The notion of business coaching
of the whole team. And the reason is, think about it, in any sport, are there any teams that succeed without coaches? Of course not.
AMANPOUR: So, again, I find the idea of the pyramid, which we all live in a pyramid. We hear at now Warner Media. We have a boss and it filters
down. How do you get team members from — you know, from the lowest up to the highest, to feel that they can safely and securely, as long as they’re
competent and good and do their job well and all the rest of it, either back up what you’re doing or complain or even whistleblower to you, I’m not
saying public, but come and talk to you about things that make them uneasy? Because, you know, there’s some issues with Google. I mean, the 20,000
people walk out over the allegations of sexual harassment, 50 cities in November.
EAGLE: I think that was Google culture working at its best.
EAGLE: Because the answer to your question is to listen to people. And you said the word safely, that’s what you want. Create a safe place for
people to speak up. Eric talked about decision making. When you are making a decision, you may know what the decision already is, you may know
what the right thing to do is, but make sure everybody gets heard. People will fall in line with the decision much better, even if it doesn’t go
their way if they have been actually listened to.
AMANPOUR: And you talked about censorship a moment ago, would you prefer to have censorship? Well, in many places there is censorship like in China
and, obviously, Google has come across and come to sort of its accommodation with China.
You said last year at a private event, Eric, that you predicted we’d see a “bifurcation” into a Chinese-led internet and a non-Chinese internet led by
America. And you warned of the danger of leadership in that way from a Chinese government that values censorship. But at the same time, and we’ve
reported this a lot, Google was under heat for its own employees for Project Dragonfly, which is kind of a censored version of a search engine
that would, you know, keep certain information away from the Chinese authorities. Where do you come down on that?
SCHMIDT: Well, let’s talk about China and the internet for a second. The Chinese internet companies are faster growing and higher valuation than
what you call big tech here in the West. They are operating and growing in a separate ecosystem. They have some links outside of China. But China
itself is so large, as a business, and they are so successful that they are primarily domestically focused.
If you talk to the founders of those companies, their primary concern is the government because the government could, for example, arbitrarily
decide to not allow them to do a product or so forth and so on. All of them are subject to the very aggressive laws with respect to surveillance,
loss of privacy and so forth.
My concern is that that model not become the internet and my concern is that the internet not split in that way. I think it’s very important that
Western values of openness and communications and so forth, which we took for granted, are globally available.
AMANPOUR: So — I mean, taking what you’ve just said, are you pleased then that the complaints by Google employees about this, which were verbalized,
have apparently put operation Dragonfly either on hold or have ditched it altogether?
SCHMIDT: So, again, not involved with those decisions. So, I don’t know the specifics of the decision. What I can tell you is our culture
encourages this kind of expression of interest. The company has to make the decision.
AMANPOUR: So — go ahead.
EAGLE: I’m pleased that employees felt it was okay to speak up. Whether or not they influenced something or not, they felt empowered, they didn’t –
– they felt something that wasn’t going right at the company or at least in their opinion it wasn’t, and they felt they could speak up about it.
AMANPOUR: And in fact, the current CEO, Sundar Pichai, says it was merely an internal project. He’s denied any plans to launch one in China and says
the project has since been dropped. Bill Campbell, would he have agreed with that? Are you pleased that it’s been dropped, whatever was going on?
EAGLE: Again, I’m pleased people felt empowered to talk up about it, speak up about it and that they were listened to, regardless of the issue.
AMANPOUR: What is the biggest takeaway in terms of management between leaders and employees that we — that you hope you take from this book?
SCHMIDT: The basic principle is bring humanity back into the workplace. Respect, listening, caring about people, helping them achieve their
objectives. This is what Bill was all about.
AMANPOUR: And that could be an exponential game changer because still, to this day, the little people are still nervous about their jobs should they
feel that they’re part of the project and feel empowered and then get themselves slapped around.
SCHMIDT: Well, and the book is called “Trillion Dollar Coach” because Bill was both Steve Jobs’ coach —
SCHMIDT: — as well as my coach, and the sum of that is more than a trillion dollars of shareholder value. He’s by far the most successful
coach in the world. And at Google, and I suspect at Apple, you would never be able refer to our employees as little people, right? Our model —
AMANPOUR: I’m talking about on the totem pole.
SCHMIDT: I’m — our model is huge empowerment to our individual employees, which I’m very proud of.
AMANPOUR: What did you get from him, from Bill? I know he was your coach. And also, wasn’t Steve Jobs a little bit sort of nervous about Bill
coaching all the competitors as well?
SCHMIDT: Well, what’s interesting about Bill is he managed to actually coach not just Apple and Google but many other companies in the Valley.
And he managed to do this because he was not involved in the product decisions. He let the product decisions, which often were very complicated
and different, stay separate. He coached them, people, as individuals.
And somehow in the middle of all of the conflict between Apple and Google, he managed to do it and did it fairly to the satisfaction of both sides.
EAGLE: And he built incredible trust, again, by listening, by being loyal, by being, you know, very careful with keeping secrets and he just built
tremendous trust. So, he could work with many different players.
AMANPOUR: Excellent. Eric Schmidt, Alan Eagle, thank you very much.
SCHMIDT: OK. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: The book is the “Trillion Dollar Coach.”
SCHMIDT: Thank you.
EAGLE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And now, we’re going to take a cue from Shakespeare and his eternally timely, “King Lear.” It too is all about power, a team of rivals
and a big breakup of his kingdom no less.
Lear’s decent into madness makes him one of the most challenging characters to grapple with on stage. The latest actor taking up the gauntlet is
Glenda Jackson. At 83 years old, she’s showing no signs of slowing down as she throws herself into eight shows a week on Broadway.
Fierce, funny and frank, it’s a delight to welcome her back to this program between, of course, shows. There you are in New York.
Welcome back, Glenda Jackson.
JACKSON: Thank you very much indeed.
AMANPOUR: It is exhaust, right? I mean, it’s very physical and all- encompassing performance.
JACKSON: Well, it is and it isn’t. I mean, I’m used to eight shows a week. I mean, that was the work toll, that it was practiced in England
when I began and still is. But there is enormous energy in the play itself. And if you can touch into that energy, and we do as a company,
then, really, I mean, I sometimes feel more energized when it’s — when we’ve done it than when I started.
AMANPOUR: And I wonder whether — because you’ve also said that you think, you know, Shakespeare is perhaps one of the most, if not the most
contemporary of playwrights. And given all —
JACKSON: Oh, he is. Undoubtedly.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And we’ve just been talking about leadership —
AMANPOUR: — and power and corruption and breakup and ethics. Where does he fit in for you? Why do you call him still so contemporary?
JACKSON: Well, because he essentially only ever writes about us, about human beings. And human nature is immutable. Yes, we can and we do when
we’re still trying to improve the human condition. But we, as human beings, don’t change that much. And there are tropes in the play that are
absolutely reflected in the world as we know it today.
When I was particularly interested hearing the previous piece about power and leadership because Lear says in the play that he was flattered like a
dog as the king. People said to him aye and no to everything he said. And the line is, “Aye and no, too, is no good divinity.” And so, that is
something that is still prevalent now.
AMANPOUR: Now, continuing that theme, this particular production of “King Lear” takes place, essentially in a single kind of gilded room. And —
AMANPOUR: — you know, it then turns into a bit of a ruin in the second part. But nonetheless, as you can imagine, given the times we’re living
in, some of the theater critics have said, “Well, that room, that sort of – – that room must be Trumpian. It must be the Trump tower conference room.” I mean, do you ever think about that? Is there any kind of truth to that
JACKSON: I think there may have been something there in the background but certainly, Lear is not that kind of person. I mean, the point about Lear
is that he’s a man who no one has ever said no to in his entire life. He was born to that position of power. He’s, obviously, conducted it well.
He says he’s handing it over to younger strength than his because he wants to have a peaceful retirement, ideally with his youngest, most favorite
daughter in probably the most favorite place in this kingdom. And it doesn’t happen like that.
And so, what he has known all his life begins in the most terrible way to fracture, to fall apart, to finish. But his power is never something that
he’s had to question or has been questioned until this critical moment.
AMANPOUR: So, we’re going to be playing now a little clip because it has been filmed. And we’ve been talking about ethics. And he’s now losing his
faculties, but he’s got one sort of clear moment and here it is. Here’s you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are. That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm. How shall your houseless heads, your own
[phonetic], your looped and windowed raggedness, defend me from seasons such as this. Aaah! I have ta-en to little care of this. Take physic
pomp. Expose yourself to feel what wretches feel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, that last line essentially says it all, “Expose yourself to feel what wretches feel.” Talk to me a little bit about that.
JACKSON: It resonates particularly with me because when I was first elected a Member of Parliament, I think virtually every shop doorway in
London and possibly in every metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, was the bedroom, living room and bathroom of some homeless person. There had
been major, major changes made in our social housing structures by the Then-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who had allowed tenants to buy
their properties usually at way below market prices.
And there was no recompense in replacing those — that social housing foundation with new social housing. And although the number of people who
were homeless in my country went down, we are now seeing those numbers going up. And certainly, here in New York, we see people on the streets
And it is that, for him, for — certainly for Lear, he makes that connection. And I’m truly certain it is the first time in his life. I’m
pretty certain he thought all the time before then, but no word, if these people don’t have anywhere to live it’s because they’re too idle to work.
You would find that opinion being replicated even now.
It suddenly strikes home to him because he suddenly, in the strange kind of way, realizes that he has no home. He has nowhere to live. And it’s that
acknowledgment that when he had the power to do something, essentially, you prevent that situation, he ducked out of it. He wasn’t aware of it,
actually. I think that is a moment of genuine shame for him.
AMANPOUR: It’s really interesting because it’s sort of builds on that theme, your — King Lear’s good friend, the Earl of Gloucester, who is also
brought down by a disloyal child, he also finds himself, at one point, being confronted by a poor mentally ill man in the streets, and he gives
him some money in the account (ph) and he says, “So distribution should undo excess and each man have enough.” I mean, you know, contemporarily,
that would be redistribution of wealth.
JACKSON: Absolutely, it would, yes. And look how hard that is, and becoming harder, it would seem.
AMANPOUR: But it is incredible that those themes, I mean, as you say, they are so contemporary and so eternal.
JACKSON: Absolutely. Absolutely.
AMANPOUR: Look, we make a big deal, I don’t know why, about saying you’re 83 years old and you’re still doing this. However, I think one of the
reasons is the admiration that you still have so much gusto and so much, you know, spark on stage and get such great reviews and pulling in such
audiences. But also, I wonder whether Lear has to be played in your later years, in a later year.
And I just want you to think about that while I play something — I hate to name drop, but I did interview Sir Ian McKellen and he played it on stage
in London and talked about this connection between age and Lear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IAN MCKELLEN, ACTOR: Well, there was a great actor in my youth, Ralph Richardson, a film star and stage star, who said in his typical wry, witty
way, you get out of bed, it’s a beautiful day. The birds are tweeting, the sun is in the sky. Your wife is being nice to you. Nothing could go
wrong. And then, oh, you finally got your foot caught in a Lear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, it’s kind of sweet they way he says it, but just this sort of inevitability, if you have the talent to play this in your — in
your — in your later years, did you feel caught in a lear?
GLENDA JACKSON, ACTOR: No, because the I don’t — Lear doesn’t regard himself as being old. I mean, he only acknowledges his age right at the
end of the play and the part itself, actually, it demands energy. I mean, it’s not an old man’s part in what was the kind of, oh I don’t know, I
mean, we’re so hypocritical aren’t we, as people, about age?
I mean, I remember when state pension age in my country was 65 and you expected suddenly, the day after you were 65 to have lost all the powers of
understanding, not be able to walk, I mean, it’s just ridiculous you know.
I mean, my birthday was last week. I think I’m exactly the same the day after my birthday than I was before, but this thing about age is something
— I mean, you allow it to work into energy.
I — one of the things I treasure most in my life is that by the accident of my birth, I was born in what we used to call the working classes, we’re
now called blue collar, I — it was very simple for that class. If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. And so, I have a very, very strong work ethic
and I bless — I bless my family for giving me that inheritance because it’s been of immense value to me.
AMANPOUR: And it’s great actually, I just want to also — there is so much ageism in society and sexism in society and here you are a woman of a
certain age, and by the way happy birthday, not just playing this part, but also playing it as a woman.
And I think you were the — well, one of the first women. I think Sarah Bernhardt played Hamlet in, obviously, in the last century, but
nonetheless, what you do make of that? Did you ever get any misogynistic backlash?
JACKSON: None whatever. I mean, it is very, very rare. I can’t think anyone who’s actually seen the play with me in it has raised that issue at
all. I mean, it may be — we did have a gender bender battle in England and that has been triumphantly won by the group of actresses who created a
company and kicked off that battle playing all the Shakespearean histories, all women casts, I think that battle, in the sense, has been won.
One of the touching things that was said to me — no one has really, because I don’t play it as a woman in that sense. I mean one of the
benefits of my being a member of
Parliament was that I visited old people’s homes, day centers, places that helped people with disabilities and things of that nature, and we are, as a
race, a breed, whatever you like to call us, living longer and longer and one of the fascinating things that I saw was that as we do get older,
there’s absolute boundaries that define our gender begin to crack, they begin to fray.
I mean we are taught, are we not, to be boys or girls. Babies, when they’re born, they don’t know what their gender is and as we get older they
begin to be filtrated by something else and that’s very useful.
But one of the audience members who waited outside the theater one night said to me, I’ve seen this play many, many times and it’s the first time
I’ve seen an aspect of Lear that could have a maternal quality. I don’t play that maternal quality, but it is, undoubtedly, in there.
AMANPOUR: That’s is such — that is really impressive.
JACKSON: . brilliant Mr. Shakespeare, isn’t it?
AMANPOUR: It is.
JACKSON: . just fascinating.
AMANPOUR: Yes, that really is. And we had the opportunity to talk to Kate Pakenham who was head of the Donmar Warehouse, who did that trilogy, of
course, as you said, there’s Julius Caesar and two others, all women casts and it was amazing. But she did say, because perhaps she was the first
there was quite a lot of backlash here in Britain.
And we’ve also explore a lot on this show about work and sort of useful contribution to society, even beyond the retiring age. So, I think you’re
absolutely right, these issues are happening.
But I want to play another clip from something you did much, much earlier. Essentially it’s — it’s — I mean, it’s got a long, long title, but it’s
the — the — the movie “Marat/Sade” and we’re going to take a clip of your performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Why are they housing (ph)? What are they dragging through the streets? They carry stakes, but what’s impaled on those stakes? What do
they have? What are they dancing for? Why are they wrapped with laughter? Why do the children scream? What are those heaps they fight over? Those
heaps with eyes and mouths? What kind of town is this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You do — you do mad very well.
JACKSON: Well, I’ll say thank you, even though I have my doubts, but thank you.
AMANPOUR: I mean, but it is interesting that — I mean there’s that much earlier in your career, there’s this we show, two clips where you’re really
showing the frailties, the decent into madness, mental illness. I mean, how do you — yes, go ahead.
JACKSON: Well, what I was going to say is, both of those examples where set in times. I mean, certainly, the “Marat/Sade” was set in a specific
time. Shakespeare wrote his play in a specific time where the use of medicine was not there as a calming influence on people were having serious
mental health problems and I think that is reflection. So it’s — I mean, I think one of the areas which is very different today is that increase of
medicinal calming. I mean, I use that word, I mean it’s the wrong word, but you know what I mean.
AMANPOUR: I do. I do know what you mean, and very briefly, we’ve only got about a minute left. You said that, in a recent radio interview, you said
you think the inside me is about 15-years-old.
JACKSON: Yes. That’s true, I do. It’s the envelop which carries our inside us that is increasingly disobedient. Fingers don’t do what you tell
them to do, knees don’t bend when you want them to do and the other amazing thing about reaching the age that I have is I — I’m suddenly blinding
aware of how little I know and how much there is that I would like to know. So, I have a bit more time and can perhaps can close up those areas of
AMANPOUR: And what would be your next dream role, what happens after “Lear” for you?
JACKSON: Oh, look, I mean I remember all those years when there was no work available and one was just desperate for it. So, anything that comes
through the front door that is something is welcome. I’ve always felt, when a job finishes, that I’m never going to be employed again. Let’s hope
that I can be wrong. That’s that one of the things that I hope I learn.
AMANPOUR: I’m sure you are wrong. Glenda Jackson, thank you so much for joining us.
JACKSON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And now we turn to a new kid on the block, a teenage filmmaker just starting out, but already making waves. He’s 19-year-old Phillip
Youmans. His first feature, “Burning Cane” snapped up three awards at this year’s Tribecca Film Festival. The film is set in rural Louisiana and it
tells a story of a deeply religious woman and her struggle to reconcile her faith with the love that she holds for her alcoholic son and a troubled
Phillip Youmans has now made history as the youngest director to feature in the festival and the first African-American to win the top prize. And our
Alicia Menendez spoke to him about the story behind his amazing story.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ALICIA MENENDEZ: Phillip, thank you so much for joining us. Congratulations on your recent honor.
PHILLIP YOUMAN, FILMMAKER: Thank you. Thank you.
MENENDEZ: Tell me what this film “Burning Cane” is about?
YOUMAN: So, “Burning Cane” is about Helen Wayne (ph) a mother living in rural Louisiana. Her son, Daniel and his son Jeremiah and also her pastor,
Reverend Tillman (ph) and their relationships with each other, their relationships with their religion and their community and how their
environment and their home effects really every aspect in the fabric of their lives. It’s about how religion, it sort of governs their community.
It’s about the cyclical nature of destructive behavior and how vices are passed down in lineage very often.
And it’s also about the dangers of enacting a fundamentalist interpretation of religion and then taking religious doctrine (ph) literally.
MENENDEZ: What is the meaning behind the title of the film, “Burning Cane?”
YOUMAN: Burning cane is a part of harvesting cane, but — and it’s a part of the culture and the fabric of the entire process in the community.
MENENDEZ: Sugar cane?
YOUMAN: Sugar cane. But, it also releases toxins that are very negative for people’s health. And so, I think there’s just an interesting sort of a
dichotomy there, in that it is such an important part of their economy about — it’s — and sugar cane in that — in that — in that industry is
an important part of the culture and the fabric of that area, but it is also detrimental to their health in terms of the toxins that are released
in the air because of it.
So, and I feel like that sort of touches on the sort — the multi- dimensionality of all the characters that kind of populate the film.
MENENDEZ: You finished this film up during your senior year of high school, 17-years-old. Tell me about the process of making this film.
YOUMANS: So it started when I was 16. In the December of my junior year of high school I wrote this short script called “The Glory”, and then I
wanted to make that short, but I stepped away to make another short. And then after that, my instructor at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
named Isaac Webb told me that he thought that the film had feature length potential because of the fact that it was so grounded in character, that it
seemed like it could be something that could be made feasibly. And so, I just because like obsessed with that idea. And then in the ensuing weeks
and months I was just churning out drafts of the feature length script, going through script revisions, meeting actors all the while raising money
And then so in that summer before my senior year, we went into production and shot the bulk of principal photography and then shot Wendell’s piece in
that August, and then the rest of senior year was spent in post production.
MENENDEZ: For someone who doesn’t go to an elite school like the one that you went to, how do you make a film like this?
YOUMANS: I think at my age when we made this film, I relied so much on the fact that the artists that were my friends and a lot of my friends who
weren’t artists were just really behind my mission and my drive. And when you can’t pay people industry rate, especially when we were that young, you
have to rely on people wanting to work for you regardless or wanting to work with you because they believe in your and they believe in the project.
And for me in that case, those are my friends. So I’ve actually been telling people recently that I feel like if you’re as young as I was making
a film, I think you really do have to kind of rely on your friends and your community in a way to ban together and help you figure out some of those
resource and some of those jobs.
MENENDEZ: You’ve said, “I think now is probably the best time for “Burning Cane” to come out. Why now?
YOUMANS: Well, there is – there is – there is two parts to that. I think that just – I think it’s time for us to kind of take an objective look just
at religion and its role in our community and how it plays into our advancement as a community. And I also think in terms of making this, you
know, in more like applicable sense I had to make the film then and now because of the fact that there was such a community around me that there
was no other time that I was going to be able to rely on people’s good will quite like I could then because the moment you turn 18, then you’re an
adult and people expect and entirely different thing, you know?
So when I was 18, we were already in post production, but when I was 17 I think we kind of – we were aware of the fact that people thought that we
were just a student production and in that they were willing to give so much because they thought they were just helping out some kids. And we
were, you know, young, but we always envisioned this going farther than just, you know, a student project.
MENENDEZ: There’s a clip I want to watch. It comes very early in the film, and it is Wendell Pierce giving his first sermon that we see in the
film. Take a look.
WENDELL PIERCE: Now however it says he has died, he has learned that is not to be true. That’s not true. He who dies with the most toys wins.
You can go out there and try to get a pretty dress, but it don’t mean nothing if you’re going to lose your soul. He who dies with the most toys
wins. He knows that’s not to be true because when he died, he better have good relationships because that didn’t get him across Jordan into heaven.
No toys gets you into heaven. It’s the friendships that you have. It’s the kindness that you do. Did you clothe me when I was naked? Did you
give me housing when I had no place to live? Did you feed me when I was hungry? Did you drink – give me water to drink when I was thirsty? He who
dies with the most toys wins. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?
MENENDEZ: Talk to me about the dichotomy of cutting between this sermon and then this man reckoning with his won demons?
YOUMANS: There’s some truth to what Tillman says in that sermon in that he believes that friendships and personal relationships are more valuable than
material possessions, and I think most of us can kind of agree with that. And I just kind of wanted to show the fact that there can be some truth
that comes from this man and he can also still be broken. He can still be a beacon for people that may oral status (ph) that pastors have but still
be grappling with all those same demons on his own. And it just brings about the question of whether or not we should be following anybody who
can’t really practice what they preach, but we should – should we even expect anyone to be able to do that? That’s a whole other question, you
MENENDEZ: How did you convince Wendell Pierce to be apart of this film?
YOUMANS: Well, I – so in the – in the – on the months leading up to preproduction – well, in the months leading up to production actually, I
was working at Morning Call Coffee Stand in City Park and I was waiting on a woman named Lula Elzy who’s also an alumni of the same high school that
Wendell and I went to – the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. And I went up to Ms. Elzy and I was waiting on her table. And she asked me about
what I wanted to do, what school I went to. And then I was talking to her about some of the roles in the project. I told her that we had casted
pretty much every role except this preacher, and I was just kind of explaining, you know, the preacher’s motivations, where he was in this
And she said, “what do you think of Wendell Pierce playing the role?” And of course I like freaked out, you know, because is Wendell is so – is big
in our community not only because he’s a brilliant actor, but because of – because of the work that he’s done in Pontchartrain Park where he grew up,
you know, and sort of helping stop all the gentrification that was coming through that area. And then she texted him right in that moment and he
responded to her quickly. I think she said like, “there’s a (noka) student who’s shooting a feature film this summer.
He’s interested in seeing you play this role.” And he was like, “OK, give him my email.” And so, I got his email and after that it was really just a
back and forth with the script trying to make dates work, you know, looping him into all script revisions and – but Wendell coming in, it helped expand
the community because initially the film was so much more centered on Daniel and Helen’s relationship as a mother and son. What Wendell came in
and allowed is to kind of build this entire portrait as a community and show – and show how Helen’s religion and the people that she associates
with her religion, how they directly affect her actions with her loved ones and her family. So it’s just – it allowed the entire story, the entire
community of Laurel Valley to be flushed out.
MENENDEZ: How did working with Wendell change you as a director?
YOUMANS: I think before working with Wendell or even before “Burning Cane” I had – I had kind of a messed up idea about what directing was.
MENENDEZ: What did you think it was?
YOUMANS: I thought it was so much more, you know, commanding, so much more – so much more authoritarian than it really is and than it really should
be. It’s so much more about the conversations that you have and sometimes maybe even the conversations that you have before you even show up to set,
you know? And I think what working with Wendell and Kaia and Dominique kind of taught me is that they’re brilliant actors and you have to give
brilliant actors the space to create alongside you. It was just a – it was just a back and forth, you know, dialogue, and I mean, he made all the
great choices, so it’s – yes, it worked out.
MENENDEZ: He’s not the only character in the film that struggles with addiction. Let’s take a look at another clip.
MENENDEZ: The main character, this is her son dancing around with his son, passes the little boy a bottle. Talk to me about addiction.
YOUMANS: So addiction runs through my family. Alcoholism is probably the most prevalent example of that, and before I made “Burning Cane” actually
it was when I was 17 in junior year I kind of had a little spout of alcoholism myself because I was always able to grow a beard pretty easily.
And so, I would go up to – go up to like discount stores in the city (inaudible) and get alcohol because they didn’t ID me because I looked
older. But I was really kind of self medicating because I was at a particularly low point then. I was insecure, jealous, and it really kind
of sabotaging the relationship I was in. And then it wasn’t making things any better when the girl that I was dating at the time she was also dealing
with some sort of alcoholism with her own family and her own father, you know?
So it was just – there was kind of cycle in that and I recognize that it was self medicating. And my mother caught me actually a few times. That
why she told me to shave the beard. After that, you know, as stopped drinking as much. You know, I stayed away from hard liquor. And so, I
just kind of – I had my own personal experiences with some of the jealously and insecurity and alcoholism that Daniel kind of finds himself with. All
be it, Daniel’s is much more magnified
And has a much, much harsher context in terms of him being an adult and having to care for his child and all of that. But what I wanted to really
touch on with Daniel and Jeremiah’s relationship more than anything in that sort of sphere of alcoholism is just the fact that things can get passed on
That’s another thing that’s sort of cyclical, in the cyclical nature of vices and how they’re passed on from generation to generation. And it’s —
that’s something that present in the movie not only in alcoholism but also in smoking.
When it’s routine, when it’s normalized, it’s so easy to let that become a part of your routine and I definitely wanted to touch on that with “Burning
Cane” and Daniel and Jeremiah’s relationship.
MENENDEZ: The mother Helen was played by Karen Kaia Livers, one of the more complex and dynamic characters in this film. Let’s take a look.
KAREN KAIA LIVERS, ACTRESS: It was Mr. (inaudible) son Tyde (ph) who helped me to get up. And by the grace of God, I could walk away. I was
scared I was going to have to be in a wheelchair. But you know, with the help of the Lord, I’ll be fine and I’ll survive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s great, mom. I’m glad to see that you’re doing OK.
MENENDEZ: You said Wendell is our lead male character, but the story revolves around Helen and her decisions, her experiences define “Burning
Cane.” How so?
YOUMANS: So, Helen is a character in “Burning Cane” that has the major dramatic question that really has the major decision to make.
MENENDEZ: Which is?
YOUMANS: Which is how does she proceed with knowing the man that her son has become. And how does she feel as a mother, is there any guilt that she
feels for how he’s turned out. And it’s also how does she respond, what action does she take to what he’s done. And with–
MENENDEZ: Which is not just his grappling with his alcohol addiction–
YOUMANS: No, no, no.
MENENDEZ: — but also with domestic violence.
YOUMANS: Yes, yes. And what I wanted to speak on especially with Helen is that there is a danger in enacting a fundamentalist interpretation of
And that by the end of the film, she takes Tillman’s words and his guidance literally and in that, in that very fundamentalist interpretation
of what she’s saying — what he says she takes action from that. But her major question is how does she help the people and the men in her life
really that she loves, a pasture, her grandson and her son Daniel.
MENENDEZ: You’ve said my artistic identity is defined by humanizing more than it is by my blackness. What does that mean?
YOUMANS: So, I am — I want to tell honest nuance black stories. There’s an (inaudible) and that is always going to be a part of my work. But I
think above all that, if not even above all of that but in kind of in tandem with that is showcasing the duality and the nuance of our
But I think there’s something important about us being able to as black people be able to tell our stories and be able to show ourselves in that
(inaudible) light. But I think it has to be told from a black perspective to make sure that the humanizing element is still there.
MENENDEZ: Phillip, thank you so much.
YOUMANS: Hey, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And that is a lot of talent packed in to that young man. And we want to end our program with a tribute to two of Hollywood’s grand
(inaudible) who have passed on this weekend.
First, Peggy Lipton, age 72 whose work in The Mod Squad and Twin Peaks endeared her to generations. And whose daughter with Quincy Jones Rashida
Jones proves that the apple does not fall too far from the tree.
And at 97 years old, Doris Day has passed as well. Her star turns in “Pillow Talk,” “Calamity Jane” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” among many.
Many others made the girl next door a Hollywood icon. Thanks for watching tonight and goodbye from London. And as Doris Day herself might’ve said,
Que sera, sera.
DORIS DAY: Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see.
Que sera, sera. What will be, will be. Second verse, when I was just a child–
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — in school, I asked my teacher what should I try.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should I paint pictures? Should I–