tv Life Liberty Levin FOX News July 8, 2018 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
mark levin is up next with guest actor gary sinise. i truly appreciate all your support in the year we've been doing the show and see you next sunday when "the next revolution" will be televised. . mark: hello, america. i'm mark levin. this is "life, liberty & levin." i have a wonderful guest tonight. gary sinise, how are you, my friend? >> i'm good, mark, thanks for having me. mark: haven't seen you in five, six years. >> it's been awhile. mark: i wanted to bring you out here, memorial day is not that far from now, and you do this magnificent program every year except for last year when your daughter had a baby.
that is the national memorial day concert. i don't miss it. there are other things i want to get into, and your acting career. to me, you are kind of unusual for hollywood. you are an exceptional patriot. you are a super patriot. you are involved in veterans' activities. you are involved in so many veterans activities, i can't keep count of them. i was studying this over the weekend just so you know. over the last weekend. let's get started with. this first of all, a little bit about your background. you grew up in chicago? >> yeah, i was born on the south side of chicago in a town called blue island, which is south south side of chicago, and then i moved eventually, when i was nine, just after the kennedy assassination, i remember that, very, very well, i was in about third grade when that happened. and the following year 1964, we
moved up to highland park which is a northern suburb of chicago. about 25 miles north of chicago. that's where i went to high school. that's where i started acting in high school plays. mark: before you started acting, what kind of a kid were you? >> well -- [laughter]. mark: little rough? >> yeah, i think -- i think some of the moves that we made early on because we moved -- we moved when i was nine or ten years old and moved again when i was in seventh grade, and moved again right after freshman year. there were certain moves i think. it's disorienting for a kid to get embedded with a certain group of friends and then get displaced and have to make new friends and all of that. so i had a little trouble.
plus, i might have been diagnosed with some sort of learning disability back then, if they kind of were doing that because i had a hard time reading, i had a hard time writing, so academics were always a struggle for me. i was kind of a day dreamer kid, you know? there's always some, and i was always doing that. i loved sports. i got into music in fourth grade, started playing guitar. that's what i wanted to do you. >> went right from high school and never went to college. >> no. mark: how did you go from high school to acting? that's not easy to do. >> i was playing in a rock band and the drama teacher walked down the hall and turned around and said i'm directing west side story, and you guys look like gang members, so come and audition. so i went in. you know, i thought let's see what this is about.
i went to the audition. there were a lot of pretty girls going in. i followed them in, and i didn't know what an audition was. they gave me a script and i started stumbling through it. it was funny what i was doing, i was getting laughs and got cast in a play. and i fell in love with the play and theater, and you know, i was struggling in school, so i was having a hard time in school, and yet i found this thing they could do, and that i really enjoyed doing. so from that moment on, i wanted to be in plays all the time. and i auditioned and i was playing music and get in the plays, and after high school, incidentally i didn't have enough credits to graduate with my class. i had to go back to high school and graduate with the following class because i wasn't doing well, but i was good at acting. and when i got out of high school, i started a theater company with some of the kids there. it's called steppen wolf
theater, it's been around almost 35 years now. it's grown into something that's like a chicago institution, and we've been all over the world. we've had a lot of success and it all started with kids, you know, in highland park who wanted to do plays. >> when was the first break? when did that come? >> you know, it depends. there were a series of them. one of the things that kind of helped to move steppenwolf theatre from a local, chicago--based company, that was only known there to a nationally recognized company is when we moved one of our plays from chicago to new york, and we did it off broadway. john mal kwich was in it, we did it for six months, all of a
sudden steppenwolf went from a local theater to internationally recognized theater, when you go to no, you do a play, you get reviewed by the "new york times," and all kinds of international publication, all of a sudden we went from something small to something a little bit bigger, and i was recognized as somebody who can direct and -- you know, that started the next series of events for us. but then i went out to california. mark: and the rest is history. let me ask you about this. i don't even know if this is a fair question. what is your favorite movie that you were in? everybody knows your main movies, but what would you say for you, the most challenging role, the most fulfilling role. >> well, fulfilling, there's a bunch of them. mark: i'll give you mine, one of mine. >> okay.
mark: and this is almost counterintuitive because you know i'm pro cop. ransom. you scared the hell out of me in that movie. >> the cop run amok. mark: that was a scary movie. >> and ta was a good one, it was really, really well directed by ron howard, very tense thriller. i originally did not want to play that part. ron asked me to do it, and i just couldn't see myself doing it. i had small children, it's about a guy who takes a child, and i just hated the character when i read, it so i passed on it and it came around again and i took it, and then it was fun to be evil, fun to be the bad guy. of course, i get paid back in the end of the movie. that was a good one certainly. forrest gump was a life changing film in many ways. veterans work, and i hadn't done many movies when i did that. mark: you hit a point right there.
you are so active now in the veterans movement, but not just that, police, firefighters, public safety. forrest gump really was a turning point for you in that respect, wasn't it? >> well, it was something that led me to begin to support our wounded veterans, because i was playing the wounded veteran. prior to that, i had been supporting vietnam veterans, going back to the 80s vietnam veterans my family, i got involved with vietnam veterans in the mid 80s in the chicago area supporting them locally. this was at a time that was very difficult for our vietnam veterans. wall was put up in 1982. we started to have welcome home parades and things like that around 1984 and 85 but vietnam veterans were living in the shadows, they were still struggling. they were still having difficulty and i started to
support them locally in chicago, and in the 90s i got to play the vietnam veteran, and he was a wounded soldier and i got to start working with the disabled american veterans association in '94. so forrest gump was certainly a very, very good role to play in many ways. if you ask me again what some of the most challenging stuff? i play the governor of alabama, george wallace in a tnt television film directed by john frankenharmer in 1997 and that was probably the biggest role they had done, certainly probably to date. it was an over three-hour, two-night mini-series and took about 20 years of his life. angelina was a young actress at that time. she was 21. angelina jolie. mark: you remember that role. >> nobody knew who she was.
mark: you remember that role why. do you remember that role? >> george wallace? i think i was in every single frame of the movie. it was called george wallace and i was playing george wallace. and forrest gump, for example, i'm in the movie for maybe 20 minutes or something like that, there's maybe 25 minutes, there's four or five segments that are lieutenant dan, but there's a big, big story of all these other people in forrest gump. george wallace and harry truman, i played harry truman as well in an hbo movie. those movies were focused on that character and i had to carry those films in a way that a supporting character like lieutenant dan or even ransom, does not have to do. ransom was starring mel gibson. he was carrying the movie. both truman and wallace were movies that relied heavily on performance and i had to really step up.
mark: and you've pretty much moved on to what is your passion, the troops, the police, the firefighters, the vets. before we get into that, does that mean you're forever abandoning acting? >> no, no, i can't say that. i'm going to do a small part this summer in a film that directored wanted me to do, very small part. but it's in hawaii. mark: do you have another part? i'll come with you. but your real focus now is on the other, correct? >> yes. yeah. mark: and you -- is that a determination you made or this just came about or some point of your life you said i really want to focus on my foundational activity and so forth and so on and can do a little bit of acting but can't do a whole lot of both? >> well, there's a blessing that i've had which is some
success in the movie business and television business. i was on television on two television series, one for nine years, the other for two years, that's 11 years on television, and that put me in a different place in terms of what i could do both financially to support our men and women in uniform, and timewise. i can afford to take that time to go out and do these types of things, because i owned a piece of that show. csi new york, so i did well on it. and it came at a time where i was just -- it was post september 11th and i started to ramp up activities in terms of how i could support the men and women deploying to afghanistan and iraq and what i wanted to do to help them through the difficult times, and things just got harder and harder for them, as the conflict in iraq took a turn, you know. not in the direction that we
wanted it to. our men and women were caught in there and they needed some support, and i wanted to make sure they got the support they needed, unlike what happened to our vietnam veterans when they got caught in the political muck of that particular conflict, and they suffered. and having vietnam veterans in my family and having been involved with vietnam veterans over the years, i did not want to see that happen to this post-9/11 generation of warrior, going over in reaction to what happened on that terrible day. i wanted to support them with everything i had, and turned into a full-time commitment and passion to do what i can to help them through. mark: and i want to get into this with you in just a moment. folks, don't forget, every week night you can watch levin tv on crtv.com. join our community, there gives a call, 844-levin-tv.
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of these questions. national anthem. it's been kind of controversial, i don't know why. what is your take on that? the sporting events, the controversy and so forth. just your personal take. >> well, you know, this is a free country, so sometimes things happen that we don't all agree with. i don't happen to agree with taking a knee and all that. i know too many ghosts in our families whose loved ones coffins were draped with that flag, and when we sing the national anthem, we're supposed to face the flag, put our hand over our heart and that flag represents something very powerful to the men and women who serve our country. so out of respect for them and those who fight to protect that flag and what that flag
represents, i stand up, and i put my hand over my heart. if somebody wants to not do that, well, i don't happen to agree with it, but it's a free country. mark: your activities, your patriotism, has that affected you in hollywood in terms of the sense of getting roles or friendships or anything? >> no. well, not that i know of. right now i'm out of work, so i had a television series they finished, criminal minds: beyond borders, finished up december of 2016. i must say i haven't been very heavily and actively involved in trying to get that next job because i've been so focused on supporting the men and women who serve our country, and doing the work of my foundation. so you know, i'm doing a little bit of sitting back and waiting
to see if something comes along that's going to be interesting to work on. as i said, i'm going to do six days on a film this summer, but right now the work that i'm doing is so satisfying and so rewarding, and it's a blessing to serve, and the grace they have in having the financial security and ability to take that time to devote to this is something very, very special that it might take something very special to have me go back to work. i'm not saying i'm not going to go act again because i do like it and i'm glad they could make a living at it, but i'm very satisfied at where that acting career has taken me. mark: let me read you parts of a letter. this is from jess to melissa.
april 22,2003. he says to his wife, please only read if i don't come home. please put it away and hopefully you never have to read it. he was in iraq. in part he says my family, i never thought i'd be writing a letter like, this i really don't know where to start. i've been getting bad feelings though, and well, if you're reading this, i am forever in debt to you, dakota, and the bean, his son, i searched all my life for a dream and found it in you. i would like to think i made a positive difference in your lives. i will never make up for the bad, i'm sorry. i will always have with me the small moments we all share. and near the end, he says, i've never been so blessed as the day i met melissa dawn banfield, his wife. you are my angel, soulmate,
life, lover, best friend. i'm so sorry, i did not want to write this letter. there is so much more i need to say, so much more i need to share. i married you for a lifetimes, please keep our babies safe. find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. take care of yourself, believe in yourself, you're a strong, big hearted woman. teach our babies to live life to its fullest. tell yourself to do the same. don't forget to take toad to disney world. i will be with you melissa, i will always need you, love you, want you in my heart, mind and soul. that letter had a huge impact on you. he didn't come home? >> no. no. and it was kind of a catalyst to get something started that has lasted now for 12 years, called snowball express, which started in anaheim, where a few
folks wanted to honor that request to take that family to disney, and it turned into about 800 families that first year who it lost a loved one. then there was a second year and a third year in anaheim. american airlines got very, very heavily involved to fly these families to disneyland in anaheim. i got involved the second year. this was 2006, the first year that it was done. 2007 i got involved, brought my band there. been involved ever since. we moved it from anaheim to dallas because that is the hub of american airlines and american was ramping up their sponsorship. flying all these children to this event. i mean they donate 12 airplanes to fly the kids from all around the country to this event, and
it's turned into 1400, 1500 kids every year, it was in dallas for nine years and just recently snowball which was its own 501-c3 organization folded into the gary sinise foundation as a program, and we just announced recently our relationship with disney world, we're going from dallas and going to bring the kids to disney world this december. so it's obviously going to cost a little more money. we have money to raise at the gary sinise foundation to make sure we can bring these kids. it's not just the fun, it's the healing that happens between the children when they are there altogether in a group. 1500 kids. they've all lost one of their parents in the war, in military service, and they come together and they're all going through the same thing. they don't feel like they're struggling alone.
they don't feel like they're the only ones this is happening to. they're among all these other children. some of them have lost a parent 8 years ago or 9 years ago. others maybe they just lost a parent six months ago. and they come to the event and the older children wrap their arms around the younger children and there's hundreds of volunteers, and the healing that happens and the positive energy that happens when we bring the kids together and give them an environment of love and fun is significant. it's huge. we can't forget these unsung heroes that we have who have given up so much. and so every year, we're going to continue to take care of these kids. we need extra money to do it. you can go to gary sinise foundation.org to learn more about snowball express and what we're trying to do for the gold star children. mark: when we come back, i want to know more about the gary sinise foundation. this is just a little piece of it. what we can do to help. we'll be right back.
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coach from a flooded grave. they know the cave conditions and what to do during the rescue operation. officials say the four boys rescued sunday are strong and safe. they are currently undergoing medical checks after being rushed to the hospital. devastating landslides in japan. many dozens are unaccounted for. the rains began friday and worsened over the weekend causing river to the overflow, forcing many people to their roof tops. military boats and helicopters have been deployed to aid in rescue efforts. i'm robert gray. now back to ""life, liberty & levin."." aspects. what is the gary sinise foundation? >> well, as i said, there's a series of steps that led to the creation of the foundation. there's military in my family, on my side of the family.
i've got my grandfather served in world war i 100 years ago in france during the battle of the argon. and he had three sons, two of my dad'soler brothers served in world war ii. one was a navigator in a b-17 bomber and the other in a ship in the pacific. my dad served in the navy. i met my wife, married her, her two brothers served in vietnam. her sister was in the army. her sister married a vietnam veteran, a combat medic in the army. they had a son who served two deployments in afghanistan. so lots of veterans around me. that's where the veteran work began. then i got involved with vietnam veterans and supporting them in the 80s, played the guy in the 90s. after september 11th though, those seeds have been planted for supporting men and women deploying to iraq and afghanistan. i raised my hand. went out for the uso, started
doing that kind of thing and reached out to military charities and trying to raise money for them in different ways. played concerts with my band. raised awareness by doing psa's, whatever i could do to raise money and awareness for the other organizations so they could help more of our troops, i was trying to do. and all that manifested itself into the eventual creation of my own foundation. having been involved in so many different things, gold star family initiatives, supporting our wounded, resiliency events. entertainment through the uso, all these different things. i wanted the foundation to reflect all that history. so we have several programs of my foundation that cover a lot of different territory. snowball express, which is focused on gold star families. families of our fallen and trying to help them through their grief. then we have program called rise, restoring independence
supporting empowerment. providing smart technology housing for very, very badly wounded service members. i understand you met travis mills. an ambassador for my foundation. quadruple amputee, we built a house for him in maine. he's a resilient guy among many extraordinary people they met. we've done between 60 and 70 houses from the beginning when i started doing to now. we have supported programs called serving heroes, which send messages out to usos and va's all over the country, by providing food and entertainment for the veterans that are either coming through a travel hub or maybe living in a va or something like that. we don't want them to be forgotten. that's the important thing. i always remember that great quote by calvin coolidge, the nation which forgets its defenders will itself be
forgotten. we do not ever want to forget our defenders. that's one of the thing i learned with vietnam experience, we did forget our defenders at that time and weakened our nation, it was a shameful period in our history and can never let that happen again. mark: how do you raise money for this foundation? >> well, i do a lot of different fund-raisers. we have -- we went from one donor in the beginning to over 40,000 donors now. we are approaching the beginning of our eighth year, on june 30th, coming up. that will be our eighth-year anniversary. so it's a fairly young foundation, but we've grown significantly, we have a lot of programs. i am very boots on the ground participating daily in what the foundation does. we've gone from a couple of people in the beginning. my executive director and me to almost 30 people that work for
the foundation, to help support our fund-raising, our events activities, our awareness-raising campaigns, all the things we're trying to do to keep people focused on the freedom providers. we can never take for granted what they do for us. >> and you started doing the band? >> the band, i would do uso tours and go overseas and shake hands and take pictures and sit down with the troops and have lunch with them. i just wanted them to know that somebody from the entertainment business, you know, who they saw on television or movies, was thinking about them, and came over there to say thanks and to make sure that they were, you know, felt appreciated, and supported, and then i got the uso to let me take musicians on a tour, and i played music as a kid and picked it up again in the late
90s, then after september 11th, i had musicians they played with. the reason i call it the lieutenant dan band, in the beginning, nobody knew who gary sinise was. they all knew lieutenant dan. i called it the lieutenant dan band. when i started my foundation, i used to fund the band myself or ask friends to give me money so i could go on a uso tour. because i pay the band. this is my mission, i do it for free, i have to take care of my band members. when i started my foundation, we folded gary sinise and lieutenant dan band into the foundation as a program. so much like the uso, when you donated to the uso, the uso takes that money and provide entertainment to our troops all around the world and everything like that. it's the same thing with the gary sinise foundation and the lieutenant dan band. you donate to the gary sinise foundation. mark: let me ask you about that. if people want to support the
gary sinise foundation, where do they go? >> you go to garysinisefoundation.org. mark:.org? >> that's the foundation website and look at the program page and see the programs. you can go to the youtube channel and see dozens of great videos that show what you we're doing all around the country. i'm doing it but one of the reasons i created the foundation, i'm only one guy and can only be so many places and i wanted to ramp up my activities. even if i couldn't be there physically to support, we're doing events, it's the gary sinise foundation. they know they're getting a message that we care about them and appreciate them and sending support their way. and we do that through the generosity of the american people that support us because they want to help our troops. mark: and i hope this audience doll exactly that. when we come back, there was a spat of really awful movies, anti-military and so forth and
. mark: gary sinise, i don't think me, i think there was a period of time we have a long list of very negative movies, really about the military. about the country. certain battles. am i wrong about that? >> no. no. i remember clearly in the early days of the iraq war when things were getting very difficult, yeah, there were some films that were pretty
hard on the military, i think. and, you know, in reaction to that, some friends of mine started something called the g.i. film festival. what they found, they found the same thing that you did. a lot of content coming out, the industry that kind of was a bit harsh on the warriors and what they wanted to do was provide a forum to highlight films that were sort of celebrated military service, and they started something called the g.i. film festival, 12 years ago now, i think. they were just starting out, they wanted to highlight positive films, portraying the military in a positive light and invited me to come, they wanted to present me with an award for playing lieutenant
dan. i came to the festival that first year, they had -- you know, they had some submissions for their festival. they were just getting started but it wasn't a lot, you know, of submissions to be in the festival from filmmakers that were making movies about, you know, heroism and courage and patriotism, all those things and military service in a positive way. now, after 10 or 12 years, they get hundreds of submissions. it's really grown into a really, really positive thing, they not only do a major festival here that lasts about a week, little less than a week, but they do an event in san diego and got a great website, gi film festival. you can look that up this year. i'm going to be there for the congressional opening. they do a thing on may 23rd. it will be sort of the
congressional reception highlighting, launching the festival for that year. mark: does it seem to be making a difference? >> yeah, i think so. there have been a lot of great movies that have come out of the festival, and you know what? this was during, it was during the george bush years, my industry was really critical of president bush in terms of the iraq war and what was happening, and some of the filmmakers were making some films back then. mark: fascination films, even. >> well, i never saw that one. mark: i didn't either. i know it was out there. >> yeah, i don't know anything about that one. i just remember some of the industry was putting out some movies that were a little bit, you know, where the soldier looked like a victim, you know? and in more recent years,
they've highlighted a few, more heroic-type individuals like chris kyle and his story and the tragic thing that happened to him, but he was a brave navy s.e.a.l., and lone survivor. peter burg did a great movie with mark wahlberg about marcus latrell and what happens with operation red wing. so you know, there have been other types of films in recent memory that have been a little bit different for that. but i would encourage people to check out the g.i. film festival, and those movies are focused on military families and what they go through and how we can support them. i was the executive producer on a documentary the second year called brothers at war that was made by a brother of two soldiers who somehow got embedded, i don't know how he did it, but got embedded in iraq with the troops and he
wanted to see what his brothers were doing? and he made a movie called brothers of war and won the best documentary feature that year and he's actually doing a lookback now, he's doing a fund-raising campaign, and he's going to kind of look at brothers at war and the people that were featured in it ten years later and follow up. mark: there is this creative pushback because it was very much necessary. we'll be right back. -♪ he's got legs of lumber and arms of steel ♪
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. mark: welcome back. you're from chicago, the murder rate in chicago has gone through the roof, federal official shot in the head there the other week. i mean, is there a particular environment to chicago, or is it something we're seeing in other cities, a disrespect for law enforcement, disrespect for life? what do you make of this? >> i don't know, it's terribly sad. i mean, certainly, i think what was it? i saw a statistic today about like 50 shootings or something like that just within the last couple of days or something, that's worse than kabul, you
know? when you think about it. i don't know enough about the political scene in chicago or why they can't get this murder rate down, why there are so many shootings? why there are so many guns in the hands of the wrong people there? why they can't go into the areas and change that? why there hasn't been a focus by certain leaders to go to chicago and try to change that. mark: you think it's disrespect for law enforcement? over a period of time, you see things like this happening in baltimore too, and other cities? . >> well, sure, i'm in the sort of support your first responders mission. so, you know, like our military who are put in harm's way, you know, in war zones and have to deal with the consequences of being in those war zones and
being in harm's way, we try to put our hands on police officers and firefighters who go into harm's way. we have unfortunately, in st. louis, for example, we recently built a home for a police officer there who pulled somebody over, routine traffic stop, got his license, for the police car, and while he was walking back away from the car, the guy put a gun in his neck and shot him, and he's paralyzed from the neck done. called michael flamion, in a specially designed smart technology home that we helped to build for him in st. louis. there's another police officer that we're about to build for that was shot in the head. mark: do you feel there's more and more of this taking place?
>> it seems so, you know, it seems so. it's a dangerous business. you put on the uniform, you drive around, waiting for trouble. mark: pretty much. >> that's what -- we're waiting for the call where there's trouble, and then you go and try to deal with it. so it's a dangerous business, you know? it's a dangerous business. it seems in certain areas it's more dangerous than other areas. mark: we'll be right back. more and more people are finding themselves
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i'm in the military community a lot and i find a lot of great patriots in the military community. the question about it. it's an infectious community to be a part of. some of my best friends are in the military and have deep respect and love for this country and they are willing to give the lives for it and that is what they know and they sign up for it. i have great respect for that and great respect for my country. this is a wonderful country to be a part of but when you go around the world and you stand in a war zone and stand in places that don't understand what freedom is the border between north and south korea your freedom on one side and slavery on the other you value your freedom providers all that much more and you value your country and what they give you that much more. that is one of the reasons i'm so actively involved in supporting them.
mark: it has been a great honor. keep up the great work. thank you very much. ladies and gentlemen, don't forget to join us next time on "life, liberty and dana perino in for chris wallace, next. >> i am dana perino in for chris wallace. president trump prepares to announces supreme court nominee before he heads to the nato summit pretty faces rising tensions with european allies. >> i'm going to tell nato, you've got to start paying your bills. united states will not take care of them. >> a divide with europe over tariffs, withdrawn from the iraqi nuclear deal and tensions with russia. >> i'm meeting with president vladimir putin and getting along with other countries. it's a good thing, it's not a bad thing. >> we will preview the summits with kay bailey hutchinson, u.s. ambassador to nato.