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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  February 28, 2012 12:00am-12:30am EST

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tavis: good evening from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. the unpredictable republican race may take another tur in michigan. polls are tight between mitt romney and rick santorum, despite the fact that michigan is mitt romney's home state. tonight actress and film maker jennifer westfeldt is here. she is the director and star the new film "friends with kids." debbie dingell and jennifer westfeldt coming out. >> every community has a martin
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luther king boulevard. it is a place to gather with your community to make everyday better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: a quick look ahead to what is coming up here this week. tomorrow i will be joined by singer-songwriter sinead o'connor. she is out with an acclaimed new cd, that maybe her most personal project to date. i will be joined by two of the leading heart experts for an in- depth conversation on ways we can improve our heart health. despite all of the improvements
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in medicine, heart disease remains the no. 1 cause of death across america. we will have a conversation on a supreme court review on a major vote -- a major affirmative action case. those who support affirmative action are worried that the conservative supreme court this will reverse this and other decisions on affirmative action. jay roach will join us on the "game change" the movie. i will be joined by joe scarborough ahead of super tuesday. michigan is holding it as significant. it is mitt romney's home state. i am pleased to be joined by a longtime fixture in michigan politics debbie dingell.
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she is president of d2 strategies based in dearborn. good to have you on this program. >> it is an honor to be here with you. tavis: let me start with the notion about michigan being romney's home state. he has not been there since he was five or six. is michigan really romney's home state or are we in the media ratcheting this up to see what happens? >> he did go to high school there. since it is long but then when he was five or six. people now think of this as his home state. if he does not win there, the dynamics will change. his family remains a very prominent family in michigan. his brother was a candidate for attorney general and was on the
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board at michigan state university. very good, decent man who was a leader on affirmative action in michigan. his family remains big in michigan. losing would be a big blow. tavis: social issues are playing well in michigan. is that always the case? >> the tea party was a very real force in 2010. many viewers know that republicans took the ticket from the top to the bottom in 2010. they controlled every statewide seed and controlled the house and senate in the legislature. the budget was one of the keys. social issues have always mattered. they are passionate and they turned out.
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>> why does mitt romney continued to remind michigan voters that he upholds the auto industry bailout. why can he not admit in the minds of many that it worked? >> he has been so anti-labour. in his dialogue the last couple of weeks. gov. snyder has endorsed him. he has made it clear that he will not agree or disagree with the policy. they worked. governor romney is campaigning in michigan. general motors claimed its most profitable year ever in history. at gm and chrysler paid back their loans. people are going back to work. you have gm, ford and chrysler operating on three shifts because of consumer demand.
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i have never heard him saying, is it not great that the companies are doing well? is it not great that people are back to work? >> how is it that the governor of michigan can endorse someone who keeps trumping the fact he was opposed to the auto industry bailout and will not acknowledge that it is working. how does the governor of the state endorse that guy? >> there is not a republican candidate that supported helping the domestic industry. if one is objective, i believe that romney would be the strongest candidate against obama in the fall. i think the governor wants to see republicans win. that is probably the reason that he did endorse governor romney. >> what is your sense of why
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santorum is surging? you said that he is playing to the tea party. so is romney. they are fighting each other on how far right they can get. why is santorum making this race so close in michigan? >> i am trying to figure that out myself in many ways. you have to remember that michigan has an open primary. while the leadership of the party is not encouraging democratic -- democrats to vote, the momentum suggesting that people should go vote against governor romney tomorrow. some of his anti-labor rhetoric has been a factor. you look at the upper peninsula of michigan. there are a lot of very
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conservative people with conservative social values. rick santorum has been talking about those. those are the voters with passion and they turn out. he has appealed to them and many of the things they believe in. what really struck me more than anything in the past few days was the nra which has come out not only very strongly for senator santorum, but some of the strongest message and that i have ever seen the nra do anti- romney. if he is the candidate, the message is not going to be something that they want to live with. tavis: democrats are being asked to go consider voting against gov. romney in the michigan primary. i can see that both ways.
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>> i absolutely agree with you. i am somebody that believes that democrats should nominate democrats and republicans should nominate republicans. i think we would change the presidential nominating system. you see what happens when the national media focuses on issues that matters to your state. everyone knows i have had this position for a long time. i do not think that iowa and new hampshire are reflective of the diversity of this country. i think we should be talking about the midwest, the west, the south, other areas so we can not get the issues that make a difference. what is going to happen to morrow will be interesting. >> michigan awards proportional delegates. how might that impact the gop
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nominee down the road? >> governor romney could win the majority vote but senator santorum could win more delegates. this is based on district. senator santorum is doing well in a significant number of districts. this is going to be close. everybody knows it is going to be close. senator santorum has been doing a little bit better in the polls in the last few days. i cannot tell the way this is going. they could both declared tomorrow a victory. >> with the capitol building behind your shoulder, i am reminded you have been very close to a longtime member of the united states congress. while we are focusing on the presidential race, congress is up for grabs as well.
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you have had your pulse on congressional politics. what is going to be brought to the house and senate? >> two months ago i would not be somebody that thought that the democrats could take the house back. we only need to win 25 to take the house back. was a democratic here. 2010 was a republican year. this year, they want to hold people accountable. they want people to work together to solve the problems of this country. there is a real chance that democrats could take the house back. it will be competitive. i think there is a really good chance that democrats could keep the senate as well. tavis: that is really
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optimistic. there are not a lot of people that feel that way. but me close by asking your thoughts on the money in politics. so much conversation on the super pacs. the obama campaign is saying one thing, but doing another. >> it is wrong. we have got to do something to change it. to many good people to not want to go into politics because they do not want to do nothing but sit on the phone and raise money. i was terrified when i looked at a candidate. it was a serious race. i would go to bed at night terrified that somebody might do a half a million dollar buy against him. how would you compete with that? this is a senior person that
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knows people and has the ability to figure out how to raise money. money is playing too much part of the system. we do not have transparency. it is keeping good people from going into service. tavis: john dingell, a longtime member of the house of representatives. i made reference to him earlier in this conversation. thank you for sharing your insights. we will be watching your home state, whether it is romney's or not. >> i am a michigan girl and proud of it. thank you. tavis: up next, actress and film maker jennifer westfeldt. jennifer westfeldt is a tony nominated actress that's previous films included "kissing jessica stein."
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her latest project is called "friends with kids." she not only stars in it, but also about directed and wrote it. >> you do not want to subject that kid to a tragic marriage. >> a tragic marriage? >> our tragic marriage. >> the one that we would have? we do not want to fall into the trap -- we want to do it in a way that doesn't kill the romance. the thing is i'm old. >> you want to have a kid without all of the problems of marriage. tavis: how many other ways could you have offended your friends? the idea for this project came
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from where? >> it came from observing family and friends and people in our lives making transition and becoming parents. we do not have kids yet. we have a dog that feels like a child. being out of sync with your peer group and making your game changing decision. being on the outside and observing how different people handle it and how different people make that big shift in their lives. tavis: it is fascinating taking the real-life issues and circumstances and consequences in the lives of real people and find the comedy. the romance goes out. how you find the comedy and the humor in that is fascinating. >> i think that life is full of
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the funny and sad and everything in between. i hope that it is relatable. there is always comedy and drama in every moment of life. tavis: when jennifer says john, i love how these names just get -- he is john ham. from "mad men," her longtime beau. give him my regards. the whole family would have come. >> we will work on that. tavis: this is written and directed. this is your first time directing. >> it was my directorial debut.
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it was overwhelming, but exciting. a year ago we wrapped the movie. the worst winter in new york in 25 years. it to shoot a film in the dead of winter with babies and toddlerson set every day. tavis: i talk to somebody about their directorial debut. he ask spielberg for advice. on your first film, do not have kids or animals. you violated all of that. >> i had not actually intended to direct. indie film is crazy. there is always one magic moment where it looks like the cast can come together. the four weeks or the period of time. the only way we could do that
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and not lose our great cast was for me to step in and direct it. i did. we had a great group of producing partners. such a wonderful partner and helped fill in my gaps and helped me prepare. it only became possible because of the people around us. not necessarily. it may be in a few years. tavis: the cast of every project is important. it seems like this is pretty well cast. >> we were so fortunate to get this group of actors. it was a dream cast. the fact that they wanted to do this tiny film in the dead of winter, it is not a cushy job. it was a nice and pure way to
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work. we were blessed. my partr in crime has been a friend of mine for about 15 years. the chemistry has been great. some of the other actors have worked together before. maya and kristen, they had worked together on "bridesmaid's." the familial aspects to it. when you do not have a lot of time and you are playing with a lot of history, it is wonderful to have the bill in history among the cast. tavis: how paranoid are the friends of you and john tried to figure out who is who and what statements are you making? are your friends paranoid now?
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>> adam scott is one of our friends. he came over to read the script the very first day i finished. we have actors over to read it around are dining room table. it was literally coming out of the printer. i was highlighting and john was pouring wine for people. atom has two kids. he was one of our friends that disappeared for a while when he had kids. it was exciting. it was exciting to hear from my friends with kids. i asked them, do you find it truthful, it is it offensive, it is it relatable it? the shoot, the edit, i would make sure all my friends with kids would watch and weigh in.
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tavis: since we are talking about it, give me some of the bandages and disadvantages of being friends with kids. >> obviously, we are trying to look at the highs and lows and the comic elements as well in the film. the outset of the movie my character and adam's character were the last childless singles in our group. we were looking at the toll that children took on the romantic relationship. early on in the film is jason's birthday. we have to bring all of the food and the wine and cake. i am the only one that brought any presents.
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they are all running around and screaming and nobody has brought the gifts. it is trying to show the strain and stress of the first year of being new parents. there is no time for anything. you may or may not have time for your friends. it is the reality of losing your friends for a bit when they first become parents. missing out one-on-one time with them and wondering if bay will ever come back to you or you will ever get to go out again to dinner. all of that stuff that happens when you become parents. tavis: have you been asked whether or when you and john will have kids? >> a lot. tavis: i did not want to ask. this is my word, not yours. how empowering was this for you as a screenwriter, as a
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director, more importantly as a woman doing all of that. as a woman doing all of that. it is true for all of us. when you do not find opportunities, you have to create them. how has the process and for you? >> it is in power ring. i have done this on my other films as a wrister, actor, producer. with all three projects it has been exciting and interesting for me to be a part of creating my own work and telling stories and being in stories i could relate to that has to deal with what we are going through. you wait to see what job you are
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going to get and you cannot pick and choose. it is interesting to create roles you want to play and tackle issues you want to tackle. we are seeing more and more of it. you look at the success that kristen has had. at sundance there were six films that were women writing for themselves. tavis: an african-american woman won for the first time at sundance, which is a big deal. >> there is a wave of women creating their own material, their own work to act in, direct, produce. that is the only way that things will change. there are no good roles for women. and there are no good stories geared towards women. we are responsible for that.
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so many women and girls are doing that now. tavis: she became the first black woman to win at sundance this year. congratulations to her. back to you. it is called "friends with kids." come back any time. john, too. that is our show for tonight. until next time, keep the faith. >> you want to come in your room. >> can you do me a favor and keep him with you guys tonight? between that and the positions that we do, i do not want to scare him. >> right, right. sometimes, we can be loud, too. great, we will keep him for the night. >> you are the best. >> for more information on
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today'show, visit tavis smiley. tavis: i am tavis smiley. to me for a candid conversation with singer-songwriter sinead o'connor. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it is the cornerstone that we all know. it is not just a street or boulevard. it is a place where walmart comes together with your community to make everyday better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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