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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what’s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What we’re seeing now with Palestinians is a shrinking horizon, not an expanding one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in the Middle East as the cycle of violence escalates and Israel’s extreme far-right government
gets up and running. Then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL FEIG, AUTHOR, “COCKTAIL TIME!” AND WRITER/DIRECTOR: Enough things in my life with bullies and all that were not fun. And so, my only goal was
just let’s make people happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Famous for “Freaks and Geeks” and “Bridesmaids”, comedy genius, Paul Feig, joins me for a candid conversation about his career and his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROBERT WALDINGER, AUTHOR, “THE GOOD LIFE” AND DIRECTOR, HARVARD STUDY OF ADULT DEVELOPMENT: If I have a sense of my life has meaning and purpose,
I am more likely to feel happy more hours of the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How to lead the good life. Dr. Robert Waldinger brings Walter Isaacson the breaking news from the happiness front.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
America’s top diplomat is leaving the Middle East after spending two days in the region as violence between Israelis and Palestinians flares up once
again. Antony Blinken urged calm on both sides. It’s a familiar line from a U.S. Secretary of State. But this is the first major test of Benjamin
Netanyahu’s latest and very hardline government which took power last month. It is widely considered the most far-right religious Israeli
coalition in the state’s history.
After meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday, Blinken went to the occupied West Bank to meet with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas,
becoming the latest American Secretary of State to try navigating a way out of this cycle of despair, while also clinging to the hope and the vision of
a two-state solution. Diana Buttu is a Palestinian lawyer who advised the negotiating team, and she is joining me now from Ramallah.
Welcome back to the program, Diana. Can I start by asking you what you made of the statement by Antony Blinken, sitting, I believe, there with
President Mahmoud Abbas, talking about Palestinians shrinking horizons for hope. I’ve actually never heard that before in public. What did you make of
DIANA BUTTU, POLITICAL ANALYST AND HUMAN RIGHT LAWYER: This is the first time that he was actually honest about what it is that Palestinians are
experiencing. We’ve already been seeing, over the past two decades, during this so-called peace process that things have actually gotten worse for
Palestinians. We’ve seen more and more settlements expand, we’ve seen more Palestinian homes be demolished by Israel, more Palestinians killed. And
the idea of a two-state solution is now laughable.
So, this is the first dose of honesty that we’ve heard from a secretary of state. The question is, what is he going to do to stop it and to pretend
that somehow the U.S. is either an honest broker (ph) or that it doesn’t play a role in this is also laughable. The United States has been fueling
the Israeli government. Instead of boycotting this extremist fascist government, they’ve embraced it. And it’s only a matter of time before we
see things get even worse than they already are and they’re already bad as it is.
AMANPOUR: So, look, I know you say they’ve embraced it, but clearly the message and the words coming from the state department and from the Biden
administration has not exactly been embracing. They have publicly said that they are concerned, certainly about the most extreme members of this new
government, and their threat to democracy, and their threat to the, you know, the two-state solution.
I know you, yourself, and you said it to us many times, do not believe there’s any more hope for the two-state solution. The Americans clearly
believe there is. But how about this survey? I don’t know whether, you know, what you took form this, but Horwitz (ph), the new survey says that,
yes, support for two-state solution is sinking very, very rapidly. But Palestinians prefer a two-state solution over a Palestinian dominated
state, 33 to 30 percent. What do you make about that?
BUTTU: Look, Palestinians just want to be free. And they just — we just want Israel’s boot off of our neck, and that’s it. And so, Palestinians are
— have been pushing for this. Have been pushing for this for decades. And the problem is is that there is a way to get out of this.
All it requires us for the U.S. to say, stop to Israel’s settlement construction. All that it requires is for them to say stop, reverse the
occupation, end it, end it now. But instead, they come with words of concern, they express statements, but they do nothing at the end of the
day, except continue to fund this government and fund this occupation.
This is not just a U.N. — U.S. administration that is sitting by idly. This is a U.S. administration that continues along the same path that Trump
has taken, and continues to give Israel more and more money. That sends the message to Israelis that what they’re doing is right. That they can
continue to build and expand settlements, they can continue to demolish Palestinian homes, they can continue in the year 2023 to deny Palestinians
their freedom and get away with it, and be embraced.
These statements of concern just simply handling (ph) and we’ve been down this path many, many, many times before. The only action that will work is
to hold Israel to account, and the United States is unwilling to do that.
AMANPOUR: Well, we are actually going to talk to Dennis Ross right after you, as you know very well, the lead peace negotiator under many U.S.
administrations. But I want to ask you, Secretary Blinken did speak very loudly about wanting to see both sides share in prosperity and peace. He
talked about integrating Israel with the wider region, you know well, the Abraham Accords, and things like that. But he also said this about the
Palestinians and their visions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: These efforts are not a substitute for progress between Israelis and Palestinians. But as we advance Israel’s
integration, we can do so in ways that improve the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. And that’s crucial to moving toward
our enduring goal of Palestinians and Israelis enjoying equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity, justice, and dignity. President Biden
remains fully committed to that goal. We continue to believe that the best way to achieve it is through preserving and then realizing the vision of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, he also then went off — and actually, differently from any other secretary of state went to meet with civil society leaders inside
Israel, which some of — sort of, red as a, you know, as a not-so-subtle statement about where the administration lies. What could the U.S. do to
bring hope that we just spoke about is shrinking? What could it do to do that, you know, for the Palestinians?
BUTTU: And funding to Israel. And the endless diplomatic support that they’ve given Israel. Look, we’ve tried in all ways to secure our freedom.
We have tried to go to the International Criminal Court, and the U.S. is attempting to block it. We’re trying to use the International Court of
Justice, and the U.S. is attempting to block it. We’ve pushed for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, and the United States has
At every single junction, this isn’t just a question of them funding the occupation, but giving endless political support. And once again, if they
do believe in a two-state solution, it is easy to implement, it just requires Israel to reverse its settlement enterprise. But instead of
reversing it, we have seen that the settlement enterprise has deepened.
Just with this new government, the first announcement that they made was that they were going to build and expand even more settlements. And yet,
there isn’t a peep, nobody is pushing Israel and stopping Israel, and saying to Israel, enough. If they believe in the two-state solution, they
need to back the two-state solution. But they don’t believe in it which is why they don’t back it.
AMANPOUR: So, Diana, you know that the United States is never going to do what you just said in terms of — I think you said stop supporting Israel,
that is not going to happen. So, what is going to happen on — in the occupied territories? I think I remember you saying to me awhile back when
we talked about it, I think it was another one of these flares of violence.
I think it was you who said — and was very concerned that the, you know, as President Mahmoud Abbas said today, Palestinians are not going to wait
for their freedom forever. What are you hearing on the ground? What is the mood of people who, frankly, you know, the west doesn’t hear a huge amount
about the story these days.
BUTTU: Yes, you’re absolutely right. And I think I should make clear that, you know, the United States also continued to back an apartheid South
Africa. And it was only when the rest of the world had pushed for the boycott, the divestment, the sanctions movement in South Africa that the
United States ended up being a follower, not a leader. And I do believe that the same is going to happen here, I agree with you. The United States
is not going to end its military support, or financial support, or diplomatic support of Israel.
But I do think the rest of the world is, and the United States, once again, is going to be a follower and not a leader. But more importantly than that,
as Mahmoud Abbas said, and I’m not somebody who always agrees with him, we are in a place where people are moving ahead and saying that maybe this
should be a completely different struggle. Maybe our struggle should exactly model that of South Africa where it is a one state model.
And you are hearing these different voices. No matter what it is that people may disagree on the outcome, one thing is common and shared which is
we don’t want to live under Israel’s boot any longer. We’re tired of living under military occupation. And it’s time for us to be free. And the fact
that we have to continually be making these claims, just shows, just how far behind the United States is. We should be talking about how
Palestinians live in freedom and are enjoying their freedom, not about 55 years of military occupation.
AMANPOUR: Diana, I also asked you about what you — what the mood — I mean, it’s, you know, what people, young Palestinians are thinking mostly
because what we’ve been seeing is young Palestinians resorting to the use of guns. And that’s a little bit of a change from before when it was, you
know, knives, it was stones. I mean, obviously there have been suicide bombings in the past as well. But the use of guns, even by very, very young
Palestinians, is another step forward, another frontier. So, what do you think is going to be the reaction going forward?
BUTTU: You know, Christiane, there hasn’t been people around the world who sat by idly to the denial of freedom. It didn’t happen in the United
States. It doesn’t — it’s not happening anywhere around the world, and it’s not going to happen with Palestinians. And this is sadly the
inevitable outcome of 55 years of denial of freedom. 75 years of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
This is why we have been saying and pushing for things like the Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions Movement. We’ve been pushing for Israel to be held
to account. But instead of the U.S. embracing these moves, they also block them. This is where the fear is, is that people aren’t going to sit by
idly. They are going to continue to resist.
BUTTU: They have the right to resist. And it’s going to be a resistance that will take a number of different shapes and forms.
AMANPOUR: OK. Diana Buttu, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
And we’re going to turn now for more on this to Dennis Ross, as I mentioned, a long-time peace negotiator under Republican and Democratic
administrations in the United States. That includes serving as a special Middle East coordinator for President Clinton and a Specialist Assistant
for President Obama. He’s now counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Dennis Ross, welcome to the program.
DENNIS ROSS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO U.S. PRESIDENT OBAMA, FORMER SPECIAL MIDDLES EAST COORDINATOR UNDER U.S. PRESIDENT CLINTON, AND
COUSELOR, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Thanks. good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So, I am sure that a lot of what Diana Buttu says, you are going to rebut and you don’t agree with, particularly the United States, I — you
know, in terms of the U.S. position on this. Is there any chance, in hell, that the United States is going to do what it did, for instance, you know,
with South Africa? Like, the whole, you know, stopping the military and financial support?
ROSS: The answer is, no. And also, Israel is not South Africa. South Africa was governed by an ideology that was having a small minority subjugate a
very large majority that denied them education, denied them access to locations where they could live, denied them to, kind of, professions. It
was completely different from what you see with regard to Israel. Israel has faced threats. And Israel is obviously a partner for us in terms of
threats that we face as well.
So, it’s not the same situation in any way, shape, or form, number one. And number two, you know, yes, the current situation is bad. There is no way of
describing it. I would say, Christiane, I’ve known you a long time, you have known how long I’ve worked on this issue. I think this is — maybe the
lowest ebb between Israelis and Palestinians that I’ve seen. And it’s worse than the second Intifada. The second Intifada which took place —
ROSS: — after Camp David and the Clinton families (ph) in which effectively killed the peace camp in Israel. It’s worse than that. Because
there’s almost no contact between Israelis and Palestinians. And there is a complete loss of hope on both sides. Unless you can begin to restore a
sense of possibility, it is very hard to get back to actual peacemaking.
ROSS: The first thing to do is stop the deterioration.
AMANPOUR: So, I don’t know whether that’s going to happen, but, you know, you must be concerned, certainly the U.S. administration is concerned, by
the fact that this is the most, you know, hardline religious government in Israel’s history with members in very, very important ministries who are
either settler activists, or have been convicted of, you know, racial incitement, even belonging to a terrorist group.
You know, did you ever imagine that you would see this as you’re trying to try to figure out, you know, a peace proposal? Is it even possible at the
ROSS: I’m not sure it’s possible at the moment. But I think, again, we have — we have an unprecedented Israeli government, you’re quite right about
that. By the way, that is one of the reasons that President Biden, when he congratulated, not yet, Prime Minister Netanyahu. But after his election
victory, he clearly raised in the phone call concerns about the people involved, including people like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich in the government.
And the prime minister to be, Prime Minister Netanyahu, assured him that this would be his government. He would be the one controlling it. Making
clear that he would make the decisions. And they would not.
So, one of the reasons for the timing of the Tony Blinken visit, following visits by Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, was precisely not
to rush to meetings with the prime minister, not to have him come immediately to Washington, but to see overtime, could we prepare the visit,
number one? And number two, would what the prime minister was saying, would it be demonstrated in terms of Israel’s behavior. He said, he would be the
one with his hands on the wheel. He would be the pilot. He would not be a co-pilot in any fashion.
So, I think your — that was the context in terms of the Blinken visit. Now, the Blinken visit has obviously also been affected by what’s happened
in the last week. And obviously, you had the Israelis go into Jenin. They – – we are facing a very different situation. Guns are far more plentiful now in the West Bank than before. When these kinds of rage, which in a sense if
you watch the show “Fauda”, then what you’re seeing is that pretty much characterizes the kinds of rage see in Jenin, into the refugee camps and
And in the past, when you have those kinds of rage, the Israelis would go in and they would arrest those who they saw as preparing attacks. In this
case, what we’re seeing, not just in Jenin, but elsewhere is these people have guns and there are firefights, there are very few arrests. You end up
with a big firefight. Inevitably the people they go in to arrest end up being killed, but so did bystanders.
So, you saw that last week. You saw — I think, nine people were killed, at least one bystander. And then you had a terror on Friday night where people
being gunned down as they came out of a synagogue. And so, that was the backdrop to the visit. So, it’s not a surprise that you have a secretary of
state who goes there, maybe with one initial objective in mind. But now he comes and his main objective is to try to de-escalate the situation so that
this doesn’t spin out of control. So, it doesn’t take on a life of its own. I think that became his main purpose for this visit.
AMANPOUR: You have been, you know, doing this for a long, long time. I think many American administrations have been frustrated by Prime Minister
Netanyahu, because there hasn’t actually been this much wanted peace agreement or peace solution. And now, you know, now you reduced to saying,
well, he’s promising that he is the pilot and not the co-pilot.
Do you — I don’t know what I want to ask you. Do you trust that? Do you think that he can navigate a way out of this with these people who are
responsible for keeping him into office? And then, what is this? What are we looking at here? I mean, the bar is just almost lowered beyond vision.
ROSS: Well, it certainly has changed. There is no doubt. Look, when I was working on this, Hamas did not control Gaza and Hamas rejects Israel’s very
existence. So, we already have — on one side, we have a completely different context. But we also have a new factor, and the new factor
relates to the essence of your question.
There is the Abraham Accords for which Prime Minister Netanyahu views as one of his proudest achievements, number one. Number two, he wants to
breakthrough with Saudi Arabia. If the deterioration with the Palestinians becomes so bad, it will undermine those accords. If people like Ben-Gvir
and Smotrich pursue what is — has always been their ideological agenda, it will undermine what Prime Minister Netanyahu achieved with Abraham Accords,
and certainly make it difficult, if not impossible to achieve what he wants with Saudi Arabia.
So, he has strategic imperative on that front. As well as his strategic imperative as it relates to Iran. When it comes to Iran, when it comes to
Saudi Arabia, when it comes to deepening the Abraham Accords, the U.S. plays a very instrumental role in all of those cases. And he needs
cooperation with the United States.
So, that gives him, I’d say the — I would say, a set of strategic interests and imperatives to demonstrate that in fact he will control
things, because if he doesn’t, he’s going to find that Ben-Gvir and Smotrich undermine what is most important to him.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, these people who you’re mentioning, Smotrich and Ben- Gvir, I think particularly Smotrich, was very just like, you know, the federalist society wanted Donald Trump in an order to affect the courts in
the United States. These guys want a judicial review in Israel or a judicial reform. This is what — well I — this is what Secretary of State
Blinken said about that. Because the U.S. is very concerned about Israel losing its unique Democratic qualities in that region. This is what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLINKEN: The commitment of people in both our countries to make their voices heard, to defend their rights, is one of the unique strengths of our
democracies. Another is a recognition that building consensus for new proposals as the most effective way to ensure they’re embraced and that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Are you concerned about that? And what would happen if this wholesale, so-called, reform takes place there?
ROSS: Look, I think the key — there are four provisions in the reform. One is more political criteria and a mechanism for selecting judges. Two is
taking — having the legal advisers, this ministry, answer to the attorney general, not to the minister. Three is changing the reasonable standard in
terms of how you deal with the basic law. And the fourth one is an overwrite provision of the Supreme Court.
The first three, you can debate, but obviously political criteria for section of judges takes place here. The legal advisers and ministries in
our country, it’s the cabinet official who the legal adviser and it’s department answers to, not a kind of independent attorney general.
ROSS: So, those, you can debate whether it’s smart or not. But they’re not really anti-Democratic rules. But the overwrite provision, that is.
AMANPOUR: Right. All right.
ROSS: The idea that very narrow majority of 61 out of 120 can basically overwrite the Supreme Court, to lose separation of power. You have
majoritarian rule. The United States and Israel, and it’s relationship has been built historically on shared values —
ROSS: — and shared interests. So, if you threaten shared values, that really does begin to affect the fundamental nature of the relationship.
AMANPOUR: All right.
ROSS: Here, again, I think that’s what Secretary Blinken was trying to call tension to —
ROSS: — in a diplomatic way. I think it probably wasn’t lost on Prime Minister Netanyahu.
AMANPOUR: We’ll see how this continues to play out. Dennis Ross, thank you so much, indeed.
Turning now to an acclaimed movie director who likes to mix a drink or two. Paul Feig wrote the cult classic, “Freaks and Geeks”. And went on to direct
massive hits like “Bridesmaids”. His vibrant personality shun (ph) during the pandemic when he started a series of streaming Instagram videos called
“Quarantine Cocktail Time”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL FEIG, AUTHOR, “COCKTAIL TIME!” AND WRITER/DIRECTOR: Hi.
Hello. Hello, everyone.
Welcome to Quarantine Cocktail Time.
Welcome to Drunk Funcle Studios. I’m your favorite Drunk Funcle —
A.k.a., your tour guide through the world of booze.
What’s the name of this show?
Today’s saucy Saturday.
It’s whatever Wednesday, OK.
It’s moo-moo Friday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Feig decided to turn that passion into a book which he calls “Cocktail Time!: The Ultimate Guide to Grown-Up Fun”. And he joined me from
Atlanta for a candid conversation about his career choices and, of course, his cocktails.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Paul Feig, welcome to the program.
FEIG: Christiane, thank you for having me on. It’s an honor.
AMANPOUR: So, listen, you are a bona fide comedic genius, filmmaker, and I mentor viewing you about cocktails. What gives? What is your obsession with
FEIG: I have always loved cocktails and cocktail culture. To me, it always represented being a grown-up. When I was a kid, I really didn’t want to be
a kid. And when I was about five or six, my parents took me to Las Vegas and they went to see a Muhammad Ali fight, and they put me in the nursery
which had a glass door that looked out onto the casino floor. And there I saw all these adults’ wearing tuxedos and gowns, and drinking martinis and
cocktails. And I remember thinking, as a kid, I want to be that. And it’s never left me.
AMANPOUR: So, that’s really interesting because, you know, it’s all about, sort of adult fun and you know, sort of, the aesthetics that you talked
about, you know, you’re obsessed or you enjoy the aesthetics of all things booze. I mean, I — you know, clearly, you’re not — I mean, I’m assuming
you’re not drinking all of these things and you have a good handle on the dangers of excessive alcohol. First and foremost, what made you do these
cocktail recipes which you started in the pandemic?
FEIG: Yes, well, it started right at the beginning of the lockdown, in March of 2020. I just was shooting a TV pilot and we had to shut down,
obviously, and so, I ended up back in L.A. I remember thinking, well, what — I want to do something to help, but I’m not a medical professional. So,
I thought, well, why don’t I — I’ve been wanting to learn how to make cocktails. I used to collect all these books. And I made a really good
martini, I always did.
But thought, well, why don’t I teach myself how to do it, and we’ll do it live every day at 5:00, we’ll raise money for first responders and COVID
charities. And just, kind of, have some fun. And I just wanted to, like, give something to do every day. And I would put on the suit and tie and my
wife, Laurie, would get dressed up and just kind of get people out of the habit of — kind of, just being in your pajamas all day during lockdown and
try to keep normal life and to have fun. And we had a lot of fun. We had a lot of people tuned in and really came to depend on it. We did it 100 days
in a row without taking a break.
AMANPOUR: But also, I understand, you did it for charity. You did something quite novel by identifying scores and scores of charities. How did that
work? What was the charitable part of it?
FEIG: Yes, it would just — I would, you know, kind of do an introduction, do a dumb dance, and kind of some comedy up front. But before we got into
anything really each day, I would research a different charity through, like, Charity Navigator, or one of those places to make sure it was
We’re going to do the World Health Organization.
The Equal Justice Initiative.
Doctors Without Borders.
We’re all in this together in the world.
And then it just, really kind of asked people to donate and I would donate money and, you know, we raised nice amounts of money for a different
charity every single day. Everything from COVID charities to supporting service workers who are out of work, and then when the George Floyd problem
happened, then we were able to raise money for a lot of black charities and Black Lives Matter. So, it was just a nice way to be able to, kind of, get
people out of their own heads in the time where we were all very sort of, you know, scared and sort of self-focused, to be honest.
AMANPOUR: Yes, that’s actually interesting and that you directed it in that way. I think, I see — I know, I see what looks to be a very interesting
bottle stopper, quite close to you, and I think you brought in some props.
FEIG: Well, I did. This is my gin. I actually make my own gin. My own recipe, designed the bottle and everything. It’s called Artingstall’s gin,
a brilliant London dry gin. Go to artingstallsgin.com if you want to get it and it’s available everywhere.
AMANPOUR: And it’s named after your mother, is that right?
FEIG: Yes, it was my mom’s maiden name, Artingstall. And I want to make something that seemed like it’d been around 150 years. So, it’s a very
traditional London dry. We’ve won a ton of awards. There you go.
AMANPOUR: Even if they’re not Oscared (ph) —
FEIG: I’m only selling, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: You’re out there selling.
AMANPOUR: But here’s the thing, you came from a Christian science family, right, were teetotalers.
AMANPOUR: I mean, neither your mother or father drank, I’m assuming. You grew up in a dry household for religious reasons.
FEIG: Yes, you know, it was very verboten and our house. Although my mother did have the secret love of rum. And so, her workaround was she would make
AMANPOUR: Ah, there you go.
FEIG: And so, it was happening whether they wanted to admit it or not.
AMANPOUR: So, listen, how does this, sort of, aesthetic and this fun, kind of, that you’ve identified, does it at all, you know, does it play a toll
into how you choose ensembles or parties, if you want to call them that, you know, for your movies?
FEIG: Yes, well — I mean, it all kind of is of one aesthetic. Basically, being kind of a love of grown-up life, of wanting to make grown-up life
fun. You know, because there’s this, feeling, especially among older guys my age, I just turned 60, but you see a lot of guys my age and a few years
younger trying to hang on to being teenagers. And it’s such, kind of, a ridiculous thing to want to hang on to because clearly we’re not.
And so, I just always — like, a lot of my movies, my comedies are rated, not because they’re sex and all that in them. It’s just, I like the sound
of adults talking and being able to swear and being honest and all that. And so, it all, kind of, mixes in between my movies and sort of lifestyle,
and the fun that I like to have, and the cocktail parties we like to throw. But, you know, it’s — again, it’s all about grown-up life.
AMANPOUR: So, you are known, also, certainly in your films, your latest films, for really being an excellent director of women, if I might put it
that way, and women’s stories. And choosing really incredible female actors to play. We’re just going to play a little clip from your film for which
you’re best known, and that is “Bridesmaids”, here is a little clip.
ROSE BYRNE, ACTRESS, “BRIDESMAIDS”: Hey, buddy. How are you doing?
KRISTEN WIIG, ACTRESS, “BRIDESMAIDS”: I’m good. I feel — I’m so much more relaxed. Thank you, Helen. I just feel like I’m excited, and I feel
And I’m ready to who party with the best of them. And I’m going to go down to the river.
BYRNE: Wow. It looks like somebody is really relaxing now.
AMANPOUR: Well, Paul, there is some adult fun. There is some cocktail aesthetic, 30,000 miles high. What drew you to comedy and particularly, I
guess, to women’s comedy?
FEIG: Well, I always loved comedy. For me, you know, I was an only child. And there was just something — anything I would watch on television, I
loved, anything with a laugh track that was fun and funny. And just — I like to laugh. I — there’s enough things in my life with bullies and all
that that were not fun. And so, my only goal was just, let’s make people happy.
And so, it really — you know, kind of translated into what I wanted to do. Originally, I was a standup comedian and then I was actor and then went
into filmmaking. But all my friends growing up were girls and women. I was only child, like I said, close to my mom. I grew up next to a family of
eight kids, six of them were girls. And it just became something — I just felt more comfortable around girls and women.
And as I got older and got to Hollywood, I would befriend these really funny comedians and, you know, and comedic actors, and see them show up in
movies where they weren’t allowed to be funny in a way that their male counterparts were allowed to be funny. And it really bothered me because
all the women I knew who were so talented, were being treated just as a foils, or as the mean wife, or the perfect girlfriend.
And I just said, I just want to make three dimensional characters in movies and tell their stories because I just relate to those more. I mean, there’s
plenty of stories about men out there and those are, you know, those are fine. But I really like telling women’s stories and finding the humor of
women and to present them, like I say, in a three-dimensional way, in ways that Hollywood has not been good about in the past few decades.
AMANPOUR: Well, we thank you. I thank you for that. But you also went through, I mean, what’s called movie jail or you call it movie jail.
Because despite your breakout success, you know, “Freaks and Geeks”, and all your television work, and this and that. I think there was something
like 10 years between that and then when you did “Bridesmaids”. Why was it so difficult for a bona fide success to find work?
FEIG: Well, it — I mean, I was doing quite well in television. But I always wanted to direct movies. And what happened was right after “Freaks
and Geeks”, I did a movie called, “I Am David” which was more of a drama, trying to scratch that itch of being a serious filmmaker, and it bombed.
And then I did a movie for Warner Bros., like a family film — a Christmas film, called “Unaccompanied Minors”, and that bombed too.
So, what happens in Hollywood is if, you know, if you stack those up, you’re looked at is being, you know, they will forgive you for anything
other than losing the money. And that’s, kind of, what happened to me. And again, I was working on great TV shows, “The Office”, and the rest of
development, and there’s “Jackie”, and “30 Rock”, all those shows. But really wanted to make movies. That was my love.
And fortunately, my friend, Judd Apatow, who I did “Freaks and Geeks” with, he produced it for and I created it, came to me with “Bridesmaids” right
when I was, sort of, at my lowest point.
AMANPOUR: What was — what did that lowest point mean for you? What did it do? How did it — how did you live it?
FEIG: Well, you know, you’re just — when you’re a TV director, and I love TV directing, but you are a cog in the machine basically because the people
who write the show, the show runners are really who run it. And I was very fortunate, having done “Freaks and Geeks”, they know me is, kind of, a
creative. So, I had a lot of and put on things. But you’re not creating your own, you know, movie. You’re not in — fully in charge in a way that
you are when you make a film. And my low point, was sort of, I was doing these internet commercials for Macy’s and one of the people I had to direct
was Donald Trump —
AMANPOUR: OK, stop right there.
AMANPOUR: Because we have a clip. Can you believe it? I did not know —
FEIG: Oh, my God.
AMANPOUR: — whether I should be playing this —
FEIG: Where did you find —
AMANPOUR: — but here it is. Here it is.
FEIG: Oh man.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Interesting. Some pretty good stuff, huh? Hey, what’s your name?
TIMMY (ph): Timmy (ph).
TRUMP: That’s good. That’s a nice from handshake. Where is your team?
TRUMP: When in business, you need a team.
TIMMY: I don’t have one.
TRUMP: Look at your competition, they’re all making a lot of money, and you’re sitting here. So, we’re going to make you a winner. Do you want to
be a winner?
AMANPOUR: There is so much to unpack there. I mean, now we know, no business genius there, DJ Tea (ph).
FEIG: Exactly — I mean, you know, it was 2010. And at the time, it was kind of just funny to us, you know. He came in and did it. We were, like,
oh, that’s funny. He’s making fun of himself.
He’s a good sense of humor about himself. And you, kind of, didn’t know what lied beneath. But — I mean, at the moment, he was — he did a very
fun job. So — but, yes. It was definitely a moment where I was, kind of like, what am I doing?
AMANPOUR: Did those little boy — the little boy who interacted, Timmy (ph), did he — were those — though he was acting, right?
FEIG: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes. OK.
FEIG: I mean, he was very funny.
AMANPOUR: Because he looks properly terrified.
FEIG: Yes, we all were, to be honest.
AMANPOUR: What made you realize — what imagery was it that made you realize a comedian or a comic genius was actually a thing and you could
make your money off of it?
FEIG: Yes, I mean — well, the first time I actually realized that you could — that comedy could be looked at as something heavier than just kind
of being a goofball was “Time: magazine when I was a teenager, a young teenager, put on the cover Woody Allen and it said comic genius. And I
remember just as a kid, going like, wow, you can be considered a genius if you’re funny. It just kind of blew my mind. But it also, in a way, it kind
of went, oh, well, maybe there is more of a serious aspect to comedy and not just, you know, trying to, you know, be a nut.
And that’s when I started watching, you know, some of the more respective comedies. The old screwball comedies of the ’30s and ’40s, and then you
can, kind of, diving into international comedies. And there’s something so great about the power of laughter in comedy internationally. And it’s
something I always try to navigate when I make my movies.
Comedy can become very culturally referential, and that’s when it doesn’t travel well, you know. So, I always try to make my comedy much more about
the human condition. Because anybody in any country can, you know, can relate to — having a rivalry with somebody who’s trying to steal your best
friend like the “Bridesmaids”.
AMANPOUR: You’re right, comedy and laughing is the best medicine. Paul Feig, thank you so much indeed.
FEIG: Christiane, thank you so much. I’m such a fan. And thank you for having me on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Paul writes the cocktail lifestyle is all about being with friends, which according to our next guest is the key to happiness. Dr.
Robert Waldinger has been investigating the human experience since 1938. Now, he’s sharing all he’s learned in his new book, “The Good Life”, and
here he is with Walter Isaacson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Dr. Robert Waldinger, welcome to the show.
DR. ROBERT WALDINGER, AUTHOR, “THE GOOD LIFE” AND DIRECTOR, HARVARD STUDY OF ADULT DEVELOPMENT: Thank you for having me.
ISAACSON: You’ve written, “The Good Life”, you’ve been a co-author of it which is, “Lessons from the World’s Longest Study — Scientific Study of
Happiness”. And you talk about happiness, but boy, all of us have different definitions of that. Some people for happiness would be going to the beach
and relaxing. Some people for happiness would be throwing yourself into work and accomplishing something, or you know, being able to invent things.
How do you define happiness?
DR. WALDINGER: Well, what we find in research is that happiness falls into two big buckets. One is that hedonic sense of happiness. Am I having a good
time right now? That is the beach, that’s the wonderful part, right? Then there is, what is called, eudaimonic happiness. Its well-being. It’s a
sense of whether my life has meaning and purpose. And we all want some of both but some people really want the parties more, and some people want the
sense of meaning more in their lives.
ISAACSON: And are those happiness equal?
DR. WALDINGER: They’re not equal, they’re different, but they complement to each other. If I have a sense that my life has meaning and purpose, I am
more likely to feel happy more hours of the day. So, they work together.
ISAACSON: Tell me about the study. Where does that come from? What’s the Harvard part of it?
DR. WALDINGER: Yes. So, this was started in 1938 as two studies that did not know about each other. A study of Harvard college undergraduates and a
study of boys from Boston’s poorest and most disadvantaged families. And it was, in both cases, a study of thriving. How do young adults stay on good
developmental paths? And that was unusual. And so now, we followed them for 85 years, which is unheard of, never been done before. The same people
through their entire life.
ISAACSON: Well, that’s really cool that you have the privileged ones and then the ones from a poor neighborhood in Boston. Another privileged one,
of course, very famously, included John F. Kennedy when he was an undergraduate. Was there a difference between the rich and the
DR. WALDINGER: Yes, and let me just say, we’ve now since included many women. So, we have gender balance. But, yes, there was a big difference
that the underprivileged people lived, on average, 10 years less than the Harvard undergraduates.
And we think that has a lot to do with level of education and the fact that the Harvard undergraduates got the messages about taking care of your
health sooner than the less educated people.
ISAACSON: And when you talk about the change in demographics, you just said you have more women in the study. Tell me about the changing demographics
now, about race, about ethnicity, how do you change the composition of those in the study?
DR. WALDINGER: We only brought in women, but we did not change the ethnicity. We — our value is being a study that has this information about
the same families across three generations. So, if we were to start bringing in new, more diverse groups, we would not have that backlog of
information. So, what we do is we rely on the findings of other studies. So, people of color, people around the world, and we make sure that our
findings dovetail with those other studies before we put them out to the world.
ISAACSON: Can money buy happiness?
DR. WALDINGER: No, it cannot. It turns out that our intercity, underprivileged group was just as happy on averages as our privileged
Harvard group, and many other studies document this. Money does not buy happiness. It doesn’t make you unhappy either. It’s separate from
ISAACSON: And so, how in a study, do you define somebody who’s truly happy or is it just up to them to tell you, hey, I’m happy?
DR. WALDINGER: Well, I would say the basic components are to be engaged in activities that you care about and to be engaged with people who you care
about and who care about you. That if you’ve got those two components, you are very likely to be having a happy life.
ISAACSON: How important our relationships?
DR. WALDINGER: They’re hugely important. It turns out that when we look at what predicts who is going to be happy and healthy as they grow older,
relationships are the strongest predictor. They’re stronger than your cholesterol level, they are stronger predictor than your blood pressure. We
didn’t believe that at first, and then other studies began to find the same thing.
ISAACSON: In the book, though, there are certain people, probably — you know, both with permission and pseudonyms, I want to ask about a couple of
them. John Marsden (ph) and Leo DeMarco (ph), is it?
DR. WALDINGER: Yes, yes. So, yes, those are pseudonyms to protect their privacy but they’re real people. And John and Leo were our happiest and our
least happy men in the whole study. John and Leo were both Harvard undergraduates. So, they were set up to have good lives, privileged lives,
And yet, what we found was that Leo was just naturally good at staying connected to other people. He was a high school teacher his whole life. He
loved his students, he loved his colleagues, had a good marriage, grandchildren who he taught to sale, all of that. John, on the other hand,
was quite high achieving. But fairly withdrawn and had the sense that he didn’t really want to spend much time with people. He had two unhappy
marriages. He ended life very lonely and unhappy himself.
ISAACSON: Explain the cause and effect there because you say, if you’re engaged with people then you’re likely to be happy. But you can reverse and
say, if you’re the type of person who’s happy, you’ll be engaged with people. Which one causes which?
DR. WALDINGER: That’s exactly right. Your point, it’s by directional that they work together. And so, we know that when we are less happy, we’re less
likely to engage with people. When we’re physically ill, we’re less likely to be able to engage with people.
And so, what we’re talking about is a kind of platform of well-being. What we encourage people to do is to pay attention to their connections with
other people. Pay attention to their relationships because it supports us, particularly when hard times come, when depression comes, when physical
illness comes, when pandemics come.
ISAACSON: Well, when pandemics come, it’s a lot harder to do relationships. It’s a lot harder to engage with other people, which is what you’ve just
said. How bad was the pandemic for world happiness?
DR. WALDINGER: The pandemic was bad. That lockdowns really isolated us from the people we rely on for that sense of well-being and that sense of
belongings. But that said, people found ways through social media, for example, to connect with each other. I have a friend who found his
elementary school friends on Facebook, and now they have coffee online every morning — every Sunday morning. And they’re —
ISAACSON: But you — but in your book you talk about people connecting on social media and you wrestle with the problem of, is that really a
connection? Does social media make us happy? The fact that I’m on, you know, Facebook in the morning, does that cause happiness?
DR. WALDINGER: The research says that it depends on how we use social media. If we are active in reaching out to people, like in the example of
the men having coffee with his friends, yes. We are — well-being rises. But if we simply, passively consume other peoples curated lives on social
media, you know, those beautiful pictures of beaches and parties, that makes us feel more depressed. It makes us feel like we’re missing out.
ISAACSON: Were you able to look at teenagers, especially, because when you talk about that, things like TikTok and some of these other apps that show
all of your friends at parties you weren’t invited to has been a real cause, it seems, in many studies of deep unhappiness.
DR. WALDINGER: Yes, that there — well, we know that teenagers are more susceptible to that sense of, I’m missing out. I don’t belong. Other people
have life all figured out and I don’t. That the — adolescence is a time of identity formation. And so, we’re trying to figure out who we are in the
world. And when we look at other people’s lives that are not the whole story of anybody’s life on social media, we can end up feeling like we are
wrong. We don’t fit in. That’s the problem. And adolescents are more vulnerable to it than other age groups.
ISAACSON: Are we becoming more lonely and is that a cause of unhappiness?
DR. WALDINGER: We are becoming more lonely. Now, one in three people in the world reports that they feel lonely. That was on the rise long before
COVID. That the path of least resistance, unfortunately, is to become less connected to each other overtime. And so, part of what we are advocating
based on our research and what we write about in our book is the idea that we have to be proactive in maintaining these connections because otherwise
our path leads us towards isolation more and more.
ISAACSON: Why does our path lead to that way?
DR. WALDINGER: We think it has to do in part to technology. That these wonderful screens that we’re so addicted to, that are designed to capture
and hold our attention, take us away from each other. And there is good research on this that we invest less and less in our social lives as
technology captures our interest and our attention from the advent of television in the 1950s in the United States to all the screens that began
to dominate our lives in the early 2000s.
ISAACSON: And happiness, when you talk about engaging and being with other people, well, we quit going to movie theaters during COVID. And even now,
when we decide we’re going to watch things on streaming services instead of being in community places, is that a cause of community and happiness?
DR. WALDINGER: It is. That community involvement makes us happier. It makes us feel more like we belong and that our community investment has gone
down. Volunteering for community organizations, going to houses of worship, joining clubs, all of that has gone down. And yet, we know that we feel
more connected to each other and we feel greater individual well-being when we do those things.
ISAACSON: Let me read something from your book, because I love the way the book is written. And maybe you can unpack it for me. You write, life is
hard, and sometimes it comes at you in full attack mode. Warm, connected relationships protect us against the slings and arrows of getting old.
Expand on that for me.
DR. WALDINGER: Well, when we follow these thousands of lives, we see that life doesn’t just proceed in one direction towards happiness or towards
unhappiness, there are ups and downs because challenges are always coming our way. And what we find is that relationships form a kind of safety net
That when we asked people who went through the Great Depression and went through World War II, when we asked them what got you through these
terrible times? To a person, they mentioned the relationships. It was the people writing letters back home. It was my fellow soldiers. It was the
neighbors who helped our family through the depression. And so, what we find is that that safety net of relationships is what helps us all get
through the inevitable challenges of a normal life.
ISAACSON: Talking about the challenges and adversity of a normal life or of a life like being part of a Great Depression. To what extent does external
adversity. Things that hit you. Bad things that happen that are happening around.
To what extent is adversity a cause of unhappiness or maybe, to some extent, is it almost correlated the other way, that if you overcome a lot
of adversity, you can become happier?
DR. WALDINGER: Well, it works both ways. That overcoming adversity, when we have the resources, actually makes us feel stronger and more confident in
ourselves and be happier. Sonja Lyubomirsky is a psychologist who estimated, well, how much of our happiness depends on our current
circumstances? And she estimated from good data that it’s really only about 10 percent.
And we find that, for example, people who win the lottery, they should have a hugely happy event, tend — one year after they win the lottery, they go
back to their baseline level of happiness pre-lottery. So, what we find is that we all have a kind of happiness that point that we pretty much hover
around to some extent, no matter what happens, in our lives.
ISAACSON: And how important are early experiences growing up? Childhood?
DR. WALDINGER: We studied that. What we found was that people who had warmer connections with parents, who are more warmly connected to their
partners, 60 years later. And that’s extraordinary to find a connection that lasts 60 years. What we believe is that everybody, every child needs
one good warm connection with a caring, reliable adult in order to be set up for well-being as they go through life.
ISAACSON: I was surprised to read that three out of four Americans say they’re lonely. What is driving that number?
DR. WALDINGER: What’s driving the number, you know, we think is in part the digital revolution. But also, the breakdown of traditional structures,
because we see this around the world that in India, in China. As people seek opportunity, economic opportunity by moving away from family
settlements and villages into big cities, life becomes more anonymous.
Families stop having their usual roles. Grandchildren are not there for grandparents to take care of. And parents don’t have grandparents around to
help them out. So, all of this breaks down those structures that embed us in webs of relationships. And the question is, is there a way we can
recreate those, rebuild those in our more modern society? And that’s a big question we’re all wrestling with.
ISAACSON: Well, what is the answer? What are some of the ways we rebuild that?
DR. WALDINGER: It can be everything from architecture, the way we structure our cities and our neighborhoods to social structures, the way we foster
connections instead of fostering disconnection, to the voices we hear in our public life. I mean, think of the voices we hear that divide us from
each other, that make us afraid of each other. Those voices are not our friends. And when we really want to do is turn towards those voices that
make us feel more connected with each other, more open to other human beings. Being — human beings who are different from us. All of that
ISAACSON: To what extent is happiness under our control? And to — what do you say to people who say, I’m too old to make a change?
DR. WALDINGER: We had many people in our study who said, I am not good at relationships. I’m never going to have them. It’s too late for me. We had
people in their twenties say, it’s too late for me. What we find when we started these thousands of lives is that it is never too late. That people
find friend groups. They find love at times and in places they never expected to find it. So, if you think it’s too late for you, think again
because you just don’t know what’s going to happen as you go through your life.
ISAACSON: And as we go through life after the show, tell us what are the few easiest or most important steps we should take?
DR. WALDINGER: Take small steps to keep connecting with other people that, you know, send that little text, that e-mail. Talk to the people in your
life, even the postal carrier, the person who gets you your coffee in the morning at the coffee shop, any of those people. Make connections at work.
Send out little feelers. Ask someone to have a cup of coffee. It’s not a huge effort that’s required but it’s a kind of constant practice of what we
call social fitness, almost like physical fitness. Do something every day, something small, and you’ll be amazed at the returns you get.
ISAACSON: Dr. Robert Waldinger, thanks so much for joining us.
DR. WALDINGER: Thank you very much for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And so, finally, tonight, it’s all about connections. United by Music, that is the slogan for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Today, The Beatles city, Liverpool, has officially stepped in as host on behalf of Ukraine, last year’s winners. The war makes it too dangerous for
the contest to be held in that country. Eurovision is the world’s most watched live music event. And on May 13th, it will be sending out its
strongest message yet, about the power of music and connection even in a time of war.
That’s it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.