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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  June 5, 2013 3:00am-4:00am EDT

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your hand. with this one you have to pick which one you want to hum because they're all pretty tasty. >> rose: we conclude with jos whee don, he made "the avengers" and his next film is about shakespeare called "much ado about nothing." >> this text is populist and fun and funny and dramatic but shakespeare does what he wants and takes things in a very weird direction and you have to give it up and say okay, i'm going with him because he's shakespeare. and shakespeare is so rich that bringing yourself to it is never a question of usurping him or outsmarting him. it's just a question of this is what would happen if you mix shakespeare with me. >> rose: floyd abrams, john mellencamp, stephen king and joss wheadon when we continue.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: floyd abrams is here. for over 40 years, he has litigated some of the most high-profile first amendment cases before the supreme court.
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he represents the "new york times" in the pentagon papers case. most recently, he successfully defended the rights of corporations and unions in the controversial campaign finance decision citizens united. the late senator patrick moynihan described him as the most significant first amendment lawyer of our age. his new book is a collection of his speeches, articles, debates and other works spanning his entire career. it is called "friend of the court: on the front lines with the first amendment." i am pleased to have my friend floyd abrams back on this program. welcome. >> thank you. good to be here. >> rose: so what does the first amendment say and what does it mean to you? >> it's so short and the part that this book deals with is even shorter. "congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." that's it. that's all we know. we know some of the stuff about what the framers said to each other but -- >> rose: we know intent.
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>> we know on the broadest level. but what it's come to mean most of all is that we protect speech across the board more than any other country has ever done in the history of the world. particularly political speech, but also cultural, artistic, low speech, dangerous speech, nazi speech. we're the only country in the world that protects anti-semitic speech. >> rose: oh, boy. i mean, i know -- i've traveled around the world quite a bit. i know countries where they throw you in jail on charges of insulting the state. >> rose: absolutely. insulting the state is one of the things that really did lead to the revolution. our revolution. the idea that you could go to jail for that. but you can go to jail around the world for, you know, insulting the feelings of people
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insulting the honor of the state. insulting the honor of other people. so we give a pretty wide berth to speech across the board. we've paid some prices for it. but we think we do well by it. >> rose: and where are the limits? >> national security. but not too much. >> rose: not too much? >> yeah. i mean, we're not crazy and we understand as one justice put it that the constitution is not a suicide pact. but we lean in the direction all the time of protecting speech unless it is really likely to do enormous harm. >> rose: the old notion that you can't shout fire in a crowded theater. >> well, that's true. you can't falsely cry fire in a crowded theater. but it's really got to be a crowded theater.
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you have to have an immediate threat as a result of speech. >> rose: what is speech ( >> we give a very expansive reading. burning a flag is speech. composing a song is speech. we do -- we really come to read it as freedom of expression and not just speak or speaking or voices. >> rose: burning a flag is an ex exactly. and precisely because it's political that's why we protect it. >> rose: and where are we today. are we defining it more and more to wider and wider? >> i would say so, yeah. i mean, and the remarkable thing is we're getting decisions from the supreme court now which are 8-1 rulings protecting the sort
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of speech, sort of outrageous offensive speech people defaming dead soldiers within sight of the church in which their life is being honored. people making films of animals being tortured. films of it. torture is a crime, but you can make a film of it. and we do it all. i mean, we pay -- we make people pay a real price for that. most of all because we just don't trust the government and the framers didn't trust the government to make the subtle distinctions between well we'll allow that and won't allow that. >> rose: sometimes -- we all overquote this famous thing about "i can't define it but i know it when i see it." >> but if you can use that standard, you've got to be very careful not to know it too
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often. it just can't be a subjective feeling. >> rose: you think it stood the test of time well? >> i do. i do. i think that the fact of our freedom, our extraordinary freedom, still makes us the envy of the world. some people think we're sort of crazy to allow so much speech but this is the crown jewel of the constitution. >> rose: because it is a basic value of the country? >> because it allows everything else. because it protects us to do all the other things that the constitution and the country about. if you don't have freedom of speech, how are people at their best going to decide who to vote for? how are people going to -- >> rose: but you're a partner in one of these fancy law firms. >> you could say. >> rose: exactly. but is most of your work first amendment? >> not right now, no. no. >> rose: not really?
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>> not now. at certain times in my career. >> rose: like when the pentagon papers comes along that's a big decision. >> rose: >> but right now not at all. >> rose: so what do you do when you're defending the first amendment? >> right now i'm defending standard & poor's in a wide range of litigations around the country brought after the financial problems of 2008 and the like. >> rose: defending them against what charges? >> well, the government's brought a civil suit against them and private people bring lawsuits so i've been running around the country, i was in louisville, kentucky, last week arguing for one aspect of 15 cases brought by states. eni joy it a lot. >> rose: where were you on the united case? >> citizens united i represented senator mcconnell and i was one of two -- >> rose: the republican -- >> the republican leader of the senate. majority leader. and i was one of the two -- >> rose: minority leader. >> ted olson represented
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citizens united. i represented senator mcconnell arguing that corporations ought to have the right to spend their money to urge people who to vote for. >> rose: you believe in that? >> i really do. and especially the context of -- >> rose: some of your liberal friends are not happy with you. >> none of them are happy with me. but what i can't understand is how they would think that a documentary -- which is what the case was about. a documentary saying "you shouldn't vote for hillary clinton for president," how that could possibly be not protected by the first amendment just because a corporation gave money to help make it. for me, that's an easy case, not a hard one. but i'm way out of step with most of my liberal friends, that's for sure. >> rose: didn't the president attack it in his state of the union? >> in front of members of the supreme court. >> rose: who didn't like it. at least one of them. >> that's right. and the president, like a lot of other people who have attacked it, didn't happen to mention that it's rooted in the first amendment.
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he attacked it but he didn't even say "they say it's the first amendment." >> rose: but there's also this: he used to be a constitutional law professor of some kind. >> he was, indeed. >> rose: so he ought to know his first amendment stuff, shouldn't he? >> well, he should, but i think he's wrong. >> rose: (laughs) what's the hardest call for you you've ever had to sort of look into? where was a circumstance where you said "this is testing my --" >> i've had some libel cases where the stories were wrong and the person who sued had suffered as a result of the story and i did pretty well in persuading judges mostly to dismiss the cases. >> rose: so in other words somebody was lied about -- >> either lied about or at least something really wrong was published about someone.
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>> rose: and was not true. >> and was not true. >> rose: and they were hurt. >> and they were hurt. yes. >> rose: and the court said? >> and the court said the other side wasn't able to prove you did it wrong on purpose. >> rose: so intent. >> that it wasn't a lie, it was an error. >> rose: so incompetence is -- >> rose: >> well, when you're talking about a public figure, if you were bringing a lawsuit, you'd have to show not just something that was false but -- >> rose: if somebody maligned me and i try to sue them i'd have to prove -- >> i's called actual malice. >> rose: that they intended to hurt me. >> that they knew what they were saying wasn't true or they suspected it wasn't true. >> rose: and truth is always the defense? >> yes. yes. truth is always a defense in libel. the area where truth is not always a defense is in privacy.
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and there's some cases where people say terribly intimate things about other people-- true but very private--. >> there's the question now of this a.p. story. what do you think of that? >> i think what the administration has done is really wrong. and dangerous. taken together in particular. particularly -- >> rose: they are really exercised by this on the word of holder himself, i guess. >> well, yeah. >> t one that seems to me even more troubling is the fox news journalist james rosen. and the department of justice submits an affidavit saying that because he asked questions, because he tried to persuade a source in the government to tell him certain things, because he flattered him, appealed to his
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vanity and the like that there is probable cause to believe he violated the espionage act. now, that's -- that goes so far beyond what any court has ever said and in my view what any administration has ever said. >> rose: this is what the d.o.j. said. they describe james rosen of fox news as "the very least an aider abetor and/or co-conspirator. " that's in their affidavit. >> it's in the affidavit that was submitted to the judge that granted the search warrant to go after his personal e-mails and i think it's outrageous. >> rose: surprised by this administration? >> yes. >> rose: in what way? >> well, i like some of the other things they're doing but in this area it's very disturbing. they've had more leak investigations than all the other administrations put together.
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and they've taken after leakers with a passion, a zeal that just has never, never occurred before. >> rose: more so than -- >> yes. yeah. i mean, i'll bet you -- >> rose: more so than other administrations you might think? >> i mean, president nixon had enemies lists, that's worse, i think. but this is -- this is -- the idea of so sort of subordinating first amendment, free press, free speech interests to catching the guy that leaked information just seems to me way off course. >> rose: you represented judith miller when she went to jail. >> i did. i did. great success on my part. she wound up in jail for 88 days. now it's a -- you know, one of the things -- >> rose: for protecting sources. >> for protecting confidential sources. i have a chapter in the book on confidential sources and i try
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to make the case that whether or not we protect them all the time we've got to protect them most of the time and that it's -- without that we're going miss a lot of the most important facts about what's going on around us. >> rose: federal shield law. the president says he's now talking about a -- >> well, the president is now in favor of a federal shield law. i think it's a good idea. it might not have protected james rosen but it might because at least you'd have to go in front of a judge to get a court order and that's a big step forward. >> there's also a case of julian assange, bradley manning, wikileaks. >> right. i've been very critical of wikileaks. >> rose: what'd they do? >> because of their recklessness
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as i view it, in what they published. >> rose: meaning what they publish could get somebody hurt? >> exactly. and bradley manning made available material which wikileaks released which included names of confidential informants, of people who came to american ambassadors around the world in confidence and the like. but they still don't get a good deal of first amendment protection. how much first amendment protection we'll learn down the road here. but i don't think julian assange is a journalist, he's a political activist. but first amendment protection goes to political activists, too. and -- >> rose: do you have to separate that from -- let's assume -- julian assange stealing of documents? >> no, stealing is a crime, period. >> rose: so even if it was in the interest of some -- >> breaking and entering is a crime. stealing is a crime. there are a lot of --
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>> rose: you draw the line there. even though you stole something that was in the public interest? >> well, there are some things that you might do which you would then characterize as civil disobedience. you're breaking the law for some greater good. then you have to be ready to go to jail. >> rose: citizens united, back to that. that's the most controversial thing you've ever done. >> i guess it turned out to be, yes. >> rose: it's criticized. most criticized. >> yes. >> rose: because a lot of your friends got upset. >> sure. >> rose: how did it turn out in terms of all that money spent because corporations now could have it viewed as first amendment right. >> it hasn't been at all a as big a deal as people thought it would be. for example, in the 2010 election democrats lost 63 seats in the house. they spent more money than the republicans in every single district. and still lost.
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and most of the big money in the last campaign came from individuals, sheldon adele son, that wasn't a corporation. an individual giving lots of money and that's been established since the 1970s. that was protected by the first amendment. >> rose: there's a book about you called "nuance absolutism" by ronald collins. >> right. >> rose: and he basically describes your thinking about the first amendment as nuanced absolutism. what does he mean? >> i wish he were here. >> rose: he has a better definition than you? >> (laughs) what he thinks i mean. i think what he's focusing on is that -- i'm not a first amendment absolutist. i think we have libel law, we should keep it. we have privacy law. we have laws against revelation of certain material. but not much. we keep it down to a minimum. and in some areas we really say "no, never." we don't always say we're saying
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it but we make it so hard. for example, if a broadcaster says some judge is incompetent to sit on a case, in england he'd go to jail. in america he'd just publish this freely. you can say what you want about a lot of things here and be just about totally protected. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you. >> rose: floyd abrams "friend of the court: on the front lines with the first amendment." back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: 13 years ago, singer john mellencamp had the idea of turning a story he had heard into a play. the story involve it had ghost of two feuding brothers so he called the best ghost writer he could ever find-- stephen king. then t-bone burnett was brought in as the musical director. together they created "ghost brothers of darkland county." it is a supernatural southern gothic musical. here is a teaser for the
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production. >> tragic news from lake bell reeve where it looks like a bad accident has occurred on to a double suicide. ♪ showed up at the wrong time, i've been kept outside ♪ never could get in at all ♪ even when i tried >> really we're all doing this because we want to. >> that's true. >> we're all really just doing it because we want to. >> rose: joining me, john john mellencamp, stephen king and t-bone burnett. pleased to have them all. let me review how this happened. you had this story. >> it wasn't a story. it's an actual thing that happened. i bought a -- you've seen my two boys. they were little once and i bought this place and after i
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bought it this cabin on this lake the people said "oh, boy the way, it's haunted." and i went "sure thing." so we fixed it up and they gave me some detective magazines from the '30s and '40s and, you know, i looked at them, red them, and i fixed them up and we stayed there. and it was just like this place is creepy, this place is haunted and what happened is is that two brothers back in the '30s had taken a girl there, gotten into an argument over the girl-- they were drunk, of course, they were 19, 20-- and one brother hit the other brother with a poker and killed him. but they didn't know they killed him so they tried to drag him outside and take him into town and, of course, in the '30s what the gravel roads were like and the big cars and the two kids were driving real fast and they had a wreck, went into the lake and drown sod that evening three kids downed and it all started
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in the cabin and when they went back to get the kid that was dead in the front yard, some animal had chewed off his head. >> rose: oh, my god. (laughter) >> so that's the story i sold steve. >> rose: made you light up, didn't it? >> that's like pap pap hitting a fastball. (laughter) >> right down the middle. >> that's it. >> rose: when did you go from knowing this story to something that started churning around in your mind. >> it wasn't my idea. at the time people were talking about doing a musical with all my old songs, with the hits i had and i wasn't interested in doing it and i was talking to an agent and this story i just happened to tell him as -- i said you can't believe what happened! i bought this place and i was telling him about it and he said "that would make a great story." and i said "yeah, if you could get steve king to write it."
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he said "i'm steve king's agent." so he called steve and he was interested enough to take a look and i flew down to florida and -- >> rose: there you go. so your reaction was "let's do it"? or did they say something to you that said "oh, yeah"? >> well, you know what? the guy that we're talking about the agent called me up and said "john mellencamp has an idea for a musical." and my reaction that, zero. flat line. because a lot of people have a lot of ideas and they think, well stephen king would be perfect for this project. and he said "john would actually come down and talk to you because john was in south carolina" which is just a hop. "and i said to my wife "what do you think about this?" and she said "you know, his music reminds me of your stories why don't you go ahead and have a meeting with him?" my wife never says stuff like that. so john came, he told me the
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story and immediately the dials started to turn up and also at the same time that he was telling me the story he was tuning my guitar which i hadn't been able to tune for about five years and that impressed me and i thought well at least i can keep him around for a while as a road di. but he told me the story and we clicked on some level where i could -- i'm thinkings that straight ahead guy and maybe there's something here. and i said you know what? give me some time and i'll do a little treatment and we'll see if we can go anywhere. he had the story about the kids who had died in the cabin and my reaction was if you did this as a play wouldn't it be a great visual if they were ghosts and the audience could see them but the people who came to the cabin for some reason the way john did with his kids could not. and so i started to play warned that. >> rose: so what do we have a play here? you're thinking play?
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>> no, we're thinking musical. >> rose: we're thinking musical. so steve says to me we have -- we open and close the whole deal in that one conversation. steve drove me back to the airport. he says so if we do this, what's the business deal on this thing? and i said 50-50 all the way. we shook hands and that's been the deal the whole sense. >> rose: but responsibility, he's going to write this story, you're going to write the lyrics and the music. >> yes and we don't have any -- but we don't have any idea what we're doing. charlie, these three guys right here are like three guys down in the basement moving our first soap box. and it would be like "steve, how do those wheels go on?" because he's never done a musical, i've never done a musical. the only one that had any sense in their head at all was burnett. >> rose: how did you get him in there? you knew you needed what? a lot? >> well, it had been ten years and steve and i were starting to
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go "okay, ten years of this --" >> you said t-bone burnett and i lit right up because i'm thinking here's a guy who knows music and knows how music goes in drama. >> rose: exactly. so they called you. what do you do? >> well, you know, i listened to a whole group of one great song after another because john had been writing music for ten years for this show and i get a lot of tapes of song writers, of collections of their material but it's always over a short period of time, months or maybe a year or two. john, who's one of or very best song writers and been writing songs for ten years there were 20 some odd really killer songs. the challenge really was to find out which were the core songs. which were the ones that moved -- >> rose: do you do that by asking him? >> you do it by -- how do you do that? i don't know, it's touch. we were talking about how do you hit a chip shot over a bunker?
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it's the feel. but also it was a great -- it's conjuring trick as well because you have to conjure like bell reeve and ghost music. the challenge was to create a tone that would invigorate this ghost story. >> rose: but i don't know what a musical director does. >> yeah, it's -- you know, what i did -- you know, i arranged the tunes, found the singers to come sing them to always try to make something very conversationly if i can. i love listening to sinatra sing "in the wee small hours of the morning." you feel like the guy's just sitting there telling it to you. so people trying to tell a story. >> rose: and then you got rolling? >> steve and i looked at each other going "okay, we've been doing this for ten years, are we
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going to continue with this?" and -- >> rose: and you're both doing other things too? >> i'd be on tour, he'd have a record out. what'd you, do write 250 books? (laughter) >> i think it was 300. and with john it was 350 records. bunch of albums and shows. >> so what would happen is that a few weeks, a few months would go by and i'd call up steve and say "steve, what are we doing to ghost brothers?" and he'd say "can you write a song like this? can you write a song like that?" then we'd discuss it and go about our day and then when t-bone was brought in we just kind of -- he went like this. everything geled. >> rose: so there you go. you had your guy -- from the minds of co-conspirator stephen king, john mellencamp and t-bone burnett comes "ghost brothers of
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darkland county," a southern gothic supernatural musical thriller of fraternal love, lust jealousy and revenge. i mean, this has got everything you need. doesn't it? >> it does. actually, we decided we were going to set in the mississippi on a lake and we called it lake bell reeve because there's a bell leave in tennessee williams and we both wanted to kind of strike for that vibe, the tennessee williams thing, "streetcar named desire" and we wanted to do that family thing that williams was so great at but we wanted to add that gothic element. and i can remember john and i write these things and i would say i think a song oughting to go here and it ought to be about brothers who were arguing and john would write that song and there was one time we got together in boston and i went to where john's hotel was and he
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said steve, i've got in great song called "tear this cabin down." and i think it probably ought to belong to the caretaker who's also dead and also a ghost and john had his guitar and i got very, very excited and that was one case where john had this song and said i really think this ought to be in the show and i said yeah we're going to put it right up front, which we did and eventually we changed it, didn't we? it ends up ending act one. and it was a certain way. this is the evolution of the project. john said well, i got somebody who can play killer slide guitar and we'll do it that way and then we did ate different way in some of the demos and then t-bone burnett came along and on the record it's taj mahal who does it and it's got a real swampy mysterious quality so you see the whole thing develop
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t-bone put this project back on rails after ten years because john and i had gotten to a point where we were kind of like we lad battle fatigue. we couldn't see the way forward and t-bone was frisch eyes and ears. >> rose: but look at this, elvis costello, taj mahal you mentioned, sheryl crow. roe zahn cash. kris kristofferson. >> all great songwriters, by the way, and very happy to sing john mellencamp's songs. that was a beautiful thing. >> rose: so they all said "i'm in"? >> well, the material is undeniable so to have a songwriter like kris kristofferson sing a country song for you is -- >> rose: going back to his roots. >> well, it's going back to -- just a thrill, a great honor to have kris with us. >> when t-bone would talk to these people it would be like
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"all these guys have written better songs than me." (laughter) all these guys can write songs better than me. you know if the song was better we like steve's story but now -- >> rose: but it didn't snap >> no, it didn't. the. >> rose: they loved it. >> everybody we asked to be on it was on it. >> rose: in all honesty i think these are the best songs that john has ever written and one of the truisms about theater is that if you can send the audience out humming one of the songs from that show you've got a hit on your hands wand this one you have to pick which one you want to hum on the way out because they're all pretty thysty. >> rose: and meg ryan is in this? >> yup. >> rose: that must have been a hard get. >> yeah. i know her. (laughter) and -- i like her, you know? she doesn't like me much. you know me, too, charlie. (laughter) so charlie has the same distaste
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for me that most people do. >> rose: i do not! did you meet meg as a consequence of "ghost brothers"? >> yeah, i met her because i was talking to her about being on this record. >> rose: tell me about the location of bell reeve. you talked a little bit about in the terms of -- >> i knew a little bit about mississippi because i worked on a book that had -- called "11/22/63" and it was around the time of the civil rights stuff and i went down there and i was just fascinated by how much it was like maine, which is where i'm from. and one of the reasons that john and i get along is that we're both basically hicks. i don't mind saying that right out and went down there to mississippi and looked around and i'm thinking "i love tennessee williams, crazy about faulkner, i love the talk, i love the cadence, i love the small town vibe where everybody knows everybody and the town
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looks peaceful and you have to water tower with some girl's name painted on it. but everybody's got a secret. everybody's got a skeleton in the closet. that old rose for emily thing that faulkner wrote about. so i'm thinking this has got to be the place. john also loves that tennessee williams stuff and we thought to ourselves what have we got to lose? he's from indiana, i'm from maine and mississippi isn't our home place but at the same time it is the home of the southern gothic which seemed right and if we were going to go into a project that neither one of us knew anything to start with. >> rose: is that why you're saying you're risking our neck on this? >> it's not like we're going to parachute into afghanistan and get shot up. but the thing is -- >> rose: and it's not that if it fails you're going to be homeless. you're not going to be homeless, are you? >> i'm going to be 66 this fall
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and john's going to be 45 pretty soon. and we don't have anything to lose at this point. the only thing that we can do is he could stick in his rut and i could stick in mine and this is something that was created -- >> rose: and t-bone can always find a job. >> that's right. charlie, here's the real success is that steve and i have been -- have become -- he's like my big brother and long after "ghost brothers of darkland county" is over him and i are going to be friends andt's very unusual that you make a friend inside of the entertainment business and i made a real friend with him -- henry and i have just met and we clicked and he's produced my best records and so it's really nice easy work to have to come and be with these two guys because they're two guys that i can honestly say and i think they'll all say the same thing that it's just like you're at some guy's house with your
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friends with and let's make something up. it's not like a job. now i've had stuff-- and i'm sure you've had stuff-- that's like jesus christ, we've got to go over there. god, i don't want go. but with these two guys it's always like, you know, like meg said to me the other day. she said "how bad can it be? we'll be with steve and t-bone." >> it's a pull but we're obviously doing a lot of p.r. for the record. it's what you have to do. i've done a lot of it before. this is better because i'm with my friends. >> we all pull it together. >> rose: hanging out and talking. so what do you want it to become? what's the idea. >> what i wanted it to become is a hologram. >> rose: a hologram? >> a hologram, yes. the >> he's from texas. (laughter) >> rose: well, you are from
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north carolina. but we don't mind the hicks, right? >> you better not! system? >> rose: i grew up as one. >> exactly. these cats started out on this journey without an end point. it's very -- like they were lewis and clark, they were going exploring and they didn't come to me saying we want to that i can this to hear or we want this to end up in a certain place. it's all like what have we got? what are we inventing? >> rose: and like it had a life of its own? >> it does. and this kind of story i'm very interested in the things coming with this and this story with ghosts and real people and what not could be an extraordinary immerseive experience so that's what i'm looking at. i'm probably wrong but it will be an interesting take. >> rose: third time you two have worked together righting? >> um -- i don't know, i talk to him everyday so it's hard to
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keep track. >> rose: you talk everyday? >> we talk all the time. >> you and t-bone worked on a record that was all acoustic instruments, wasn't it? it sounds like those sun recordings from the '50s. that was a wonderful record and i think that "ghost brothers" had some input in that because we were dealing wh these acoustic sounds and you went into the studio and made this record and it sounded like carl perkins from the '50s. i love that. when we talked about this project, john and i, before t-bone came on board. we talked about broadway, we talked about rep, we talked about the kind of show that could be put on for community theater. we didn't have one particular goal in mind. >> we talked about black box. so i don't know. i'm -- it's evolving, it has a life of its own. the song keeps coming, the story
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keeps coming. >> we start in october. we have, like, 20 shows. we're doing mostly -- you know, when you have a musical they'll come in, set up for three or four days, five days, they'll do the musical and move on. we're doing it like a rock show. one night here, one night there, one night here, one night here. so it's -- this thing has been leading us around by the nodes for quite some time and it still is so we'll see what happens with these 20 shows and go from there. >> they have -- remember milton berle and hank williams? maybe it's a little bit of that. >> rose: are you still paintinging? >> oh, yeah. yeah, i paint all the time it's -- that and smoking are my two favorite things to do. >> rose: yeah, i know. how's your health? >> my health is good.
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you know, i should -- you know, for from my lip's to god's ear but it seems to be good. john paints and when i'm not writing i'll pick up the guitar and plug in and play with my grandsons. they play a little rock in roll and they let me sit in. as long as i don't get too loud. so really what we're saying is t-bone is the only employable one in the bunch. (laughter) because steve and i don't play well with others and it's fwlaes we keep in our -- on our little cells. >> rose: i think phone keeps ringing for him, too, don't you? >> i know it duds. >> rose: thank you, great to see you. john mellencamp, stephen king, t-bone burnett. "ghost brothers of darkland county." back in a moment. stay with us. joss whedon is here. he is the man behind some of the
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most popular films and television series in hollywood. he's a creator of the hit show "bufffy the vampire slayer" and directed "the avengers." he's chose an small budget shakespeare adaptation that he made in his home in 12 days. here's the trailer for "much ado about nothing." >> i hope so see you one day fitted with a husband. >> not until god makes men of some other metal than earth. >> it is certain i am loved of all ladies. but truly i love none. >> pure happiness to women. >> oh, god, sir, i cannot endure my lady. >> there's a kind of merry war between senior benedict and her. they never meet but there's a
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skirmish of wit between them. >> you three will, i will bring benedict and beatrice into a mountain of affection. >> by this day she's a fair lady >> by this hand i love thee. >> we are the onl love gods. >> rose: i'm pleased to have joss whedon at the this table for the first time.
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welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> how long have you been have you wanted to do this? after t avengers you struck gold. >> i wanted to -- i wanted to film shakespeare for decades. i wanted to do "much ado" starring amy acker and alexis denisof for a long time. but before "the avengers" came out, but my wife and i had just started a microbudget film company to do projects like this and she said you have this much vacation, you have 12 days, time for you to stop talking about it. >> rose: what did you shoot it with? >> two red epics and then a third camera. >> wow, you can do that now? >> yeah. >> rose: two red epics and a 5-d. >> yeah, they're great. the footage is way better but you can do go into the d.i. and match them up and you can't tell. >> rose: so long time love
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affair with shakespeare? >> yes, my whole life. my parents read it, watched it on the bbc. >> rose: and much ado about nothing? >> much ado about nothing i never studied. i loved the performances but i didn't understand how i felt about the text. and then when i started to look at it and parse it and discover what in it i felt was me then i felt like oh, i need to make this movie. >> so you had 12 days. >> yes. >> rose: but hadn't you been having the actors do readings before? >> yeah, we had them at the house ten years ago or so when i was doing bufffy. fans who had done it before and hadn't gotten to flex that muscle far while so we decided well, we'll meet at the house and see what happens and what happened was we kept doing it for years because it was just -- we all got something out of it. it was fun. >> rose: just doing it for the
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enjoyment of it? >> yeah, yeah. and we'd do a whole play. i'd let everybody know who's available, let them know what their parts were, what the cuts were and provide the food. >> but it was a play. you weren't recording this? >> no, no, it was supposed to be this sort of very casual thing where nothing is -- there's nothing at stake. >> rose: did you have to memorize lines or they would just read them >> we'd just sit and read. >> rose: and out of that came this? >> out of that came this. we talked about taping. we talked about well it would be nice to show people how lived in and unpretentious it can be because we found so many great moments and we had so much fun then we thought we lose that spontaneity. we'll make a film and do something special and different with that. but capture some of that energy that we have from the readings. >> rose: what surprised you in
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the process in >> i didn't have a lot of time to be surprised. the thing that surprised me the most is how noisy my neighbors are. >> ros (laughs) >> i just had no idea. >> rose: you had sound problems. >> i had no idea people could mow that often. but you know we dialed it in. all rehearsals were in the shot. we shot in the my house which i my wife had built so. >> rose: she's an architect. >> she's an architect and a producer so she created this film on a lot of levels and i love the house and i would walk around and stage the entire movie so by the time we got to rehearsals i knew where people were going to be standing, what room they would billion in and the back and forth but we had it dialed in so there would be as few surprises as possible. >> i read one of the critics saying it was like a marriage made in heaven. you and shakespeare. >> i think he got the worse end of the bargain. >> rose: but the point is that here you are a very commercial
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film director who decides out of love he wants to make a movie >> well, everything i do is out of love. >> rose: fair enough. i'm not doing any otherwise. but are you showing us that you can be small budget and good and make a movie people want to see? >> we hope to. this is a new paradigm in the industry. there's a way to control your means of production and distribution. we went with a traditional way of trying to find a distributor in theater but we said we can put this on itunes, subscriptions, we can figure it out after we make it. >> make it and figure out how to distribute it? >> yeah. that's part of the ethos, the bellwether. let's never be constricted with the things've been constricted with my whole career. i don't mind them, i like them. sometimes it's great to know what is expected of you.
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it's also for an artist to have none of that. the stex populist and fun and funny and dramatic shakespeare does what he wants and takes things in a weird direction and you have to say okay, i'm going with him. he's shakespeare. >> rose: have you had a lifetime obsession to want to play ham sflet >> oh, yes, of course! >> rose: play hamlet. >> and i did. that was part of the devil's bargain of the readings. you guys show up for a couple years then i'm throwing down a hamlet. that has to happen. it was one of the best experiences of my life. and alexis was my claudius and amy was my o foal ya and i learned -- i studied that extensively and everyone man who wears black likes to think he's hamlet. >> rose: every what? >> alienated teen who likes to wear black.
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i learned things i never thought of. >> rose: does that mean you've always wanted to act a bit >> oh, yeah. i did when i was a kid in school plays and what not and then i stopped and went down the filmmaker route. i like being a wannabe actor because i think it mix me a bert writer and director. >> rose: how much stuff do you write? >> i usually write everything. >> rose: you didn't write "much ado about nothing." >> no but i had to fight the writers' guild to not get credit. they insisted i put "written by joss whedon" and i thought i'm not comfortable with that. but i'm usually directing what i write. a couple of t.v. shows i've guest directed because i love the show but i started as a writer so this was a different experience for me.
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>> rose: if somebody comes to you and says as a result of this you know, damn it, let's make the perfect "hamlet. joss, you're our guy." >> (laughs) i would say "i agree." >> i started to adapt hamlet 20 years ago. ba when i didn't understand understand anything about independent film making and thought "nobody's going to let me do this." so i thought i'd do things that had been done to mod everyonize it and all those things had been done and movies and the hamlet that came out we than hawke and romeo and juliet. at the end of the day you want to put your own stamp on it. the great thing about shakespeare. you doing it. you're making a final statement but not for him so the pressure is off. you want it to be definitive but somebody else will do it again anyway and that's great. >> rose: because there's no perfect way to do it. >> no. >> rose: because nobody's had the same experiences. >> and shakespeare is so rich
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that bringing yourself to it is never a question of usurping him or outsmarting him. just a question of this is what would happen if you mix shakespeare with me. >> rose: (laughs) exactly right. >> bit better is branagh. >> rose: do you have a lot of respect for ken branagh? >> i do. i don't think anybody made shakespeare more sort of human and accessible and found the human comedy and details inside monologue it is way he did. when i first saw "henry v" i was stunned by that more than anything else in his film making. those things that make everything make sense in a way you can't read it. it knows not about pomp. it's about the personal stuff of oh, this is a funny bit in a serious monologue. or he's pulling back from something. and i'd seen great performances but never any that i was like oh it's like he's talking to me and you forget the language is that
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language. >> rose: is there one performance that just overwhelmed you more than any other? >> well, i grew up having seen the derek jacoby bbc one and that's my -- he was my guy. i did get to see the jonathan price hamlet when i was in high school in england in which he is possessed by the spirit of his father and did both parts. okay dad. and that was -- i didn't know who he was at the time and i was just like "that is the most neurotic hamlet i have ever seen but i love it." >> rose: what will you do next for the marvel people? >> "avengers 2" is what i'm working on and "agents of shield" t.v. show. so everything. i'm consulting on the other movies and being a part of the universe, which is fun. but we've worked on the show, finished the pilot, staffed up. that's going so my primary focus will be "the avengers part 2."
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>> rose: much success with "much ado about nothing." >> thank you for having me. it was fun. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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kevin: today on "this old house," we're going to let you in on some trade secrets. and we'll think globally about our neighborhood and our design. we found this great light fixture that's made in denmark. kevin: what a statement it's going to make when you walk through that front door. tom: it looks pretty bad right here. kevin: are you kidding me? norm: is this place really worth saving? richard: we can do better than this. roger: time to get to work. tom: nice and easy, nice and easy, everybody together. kevin: oh, yeah. roger: the right plant in the right place. good. richard: it's state-of-the-art. norm: perfectly square. roger: all in all, a good day's work. kevin: right here on "this old house."
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