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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  November 22, 2014 7:00am-7:31am EST

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own sun. the ability to navigate among these stars is invaluable to astronomers, but even to a casual observer it's pretty mind-blowing. >> people always say that nonsense, you can't speak ill. why not? >> brief en counters, conversations, magic moments and assorted hijinx is full of personal anecdotes. the host of the show has met and interviewed just about everyone who was someone. >> the phone rang. ali picked it up and heard, "darling?" and he said "this ain't darling. this is the only 3-time heavy weight champion in the world. and i am lying in your bed and ". >vaett?
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>> betty davises, or on wells. >> and there are people he does not hold in high regard? >> spiroing agnew was a peace of nothing. >> norman kaman came on pissed walk. i knew we would have trouble going on the air. >> in addition to being among the youngest late-night hosts, he made appearances in vintage add ver tisments from apple. >> he send me each computer that came out. >> cavaett talks about his personal struggles? >> a doctor said to me, are you sure you want to be the poster boy for depression sfl? but the reward is when people come up and say, you saved my daughter's life. >> the talk show host and author joined me in my studios in new published. >> you were born in nebraska, a
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child of educate ors, small-town nebraska. what were your dreams back then? >> probably not to be an educator in nebraska because every time my father told me about how during the depression, your mother and i would have to decide if we could spend a dime to go to the movies or to buy bread or lettuce or something with it. and he taught for $600 a year, boys and girls. unbelievable. i actually love nebraska. i love going back there. you find wonderful things about a place you lived in that you didn't know when you lived there. but i got aware of a young man at the university of nebraska famous for getting certain dirty jokes into things that he emceed. his name was johnny carson. it was the same johnny carson. >> you ended up meeting because he was a magician? >> yeah. >> you did some magic? >> that's right.
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i met carson as a magician backstage, church basement and i took my two little magician friends with me and there he was. and gave us a filthy look every magician would give you when he is concealing a dove in his coat, setting up the egg. i said, it's all right, mr. carson, we are magicians. "okay, fellows." he was so nice to us. >> you stayed in touch with carsson. he was a significant help to your career. >> that's one of the things that struck me about your life was the amazing amount of incredible people that you managed to somehow connect with early, and a lot of it was because you were incredibly persistent. you do things most of us wouldn't have the guts to do. >> i was known for going into judy garland's dressing room at the palace and saying hello after a show. at one point, she said is this an interview or something? i was still in college. but i did that i wanted to be with them in their world.
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>> you end up going to yale? you come to new york city. and your introduction to night -- to, you know, the late night talk shows was because you sneaked your way into the rca building and find your way to jack parr, host of the ton ite show and go up to him and give him an envelope full of jokes. people. you hand them your writing and hope they hire you and not boot you out. you just made me realize something. you would be talking to an empty chair if there had been security at 30 rock in those days. but i had cased the joint. i knew how to go up the 6th avenue elevators, make a switch, get off, go through a double dar and find jack parr's? >> can you imagine that these days, being able to do that with jimmie fallon? >> you would be shot. >> it is an example. you had that persistence. you wrote letters to stan laurel, you somehow befriended
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groucho marx at a funeral? >> this is true. >> you were in your 20 did. >> i know. i don't know why i was not beaten up more frequently than was. anywhere. i watched the world premier of my fair lady in new haven on its way to new york to run for years and years from backstage. >> talked your way in? >> masterpiece. i just said to the stage door guy: how's it going? i threw a coat over my shoulders rather than put my arms in it because i had seen moss heart very coat. i stood in the wings and watched r rex harrison and julie andrews until the doorman got wise. >> in that time, though, you first struggled with depression and have been public about it. you were very public about it before it was something that much. >> yeah. i don't know if i opened the
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door but at one point after i had been on two or three shows talking about it, a doctor said to me, are you sure you want to be the poster boy for depression? but the reward is when people come up and say, you saved my daughter's life. she saw you talk about that and thought, if you can do it... that's rewarding. >> i would imagine? >> yeah. it's a dreadful agony and has to be treated as we see in so many show people. i wrote an article for "time" about robin williams' death inord inordinately strike the show folk. i could fill a page with names you know and don't. >> right. you do address anxiety and depression in your new book? >> yeah. >> especially when you write about james gandofini? >> it's interesting when the e-mails come in on the column and on the gandolfini piece many people say i cried reading it. i don't know if you are supposed to make your readers cry but it's interesting.
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it's better than saying that was funny anyway. you feel you got to them. >> you also do think somehow success actually made it worse and the it's something that you have alluded to when you write about robin williams? >> >>? >> i said it surprise me that robin committed suicide, that earmarks. i knew him. he was inmanic comic states, easily diagnosable for people who have been there. dea deaths as show business goes on and non-show business, too, of course, but the incredible numbers of people we know an don't know in the biz who are fighting it. the great steven frye, the british comedian and actor, i did a piece where he talks about it and a good point came out in that because i said, you know, in depression someone will inevitably say to you you have
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these wonderful things in your life. what have you got to be depressed about? and he said, the proper answer to that is: what have you got to have asthma about. you can catch it. i mean, you get it. and month amount of good so-called good advice and saying, why don't you just play tennis and it will go away? you feel better after the tennis game but not for very long. >> to feel better, you took extreme action. therapy? got. >> electroshock therapy. >> the shock involved is more like insulin shock or something. it's radio waves. they don't plug you into the wall and make you stick your bobby pin into the socket. but it certainly is a miracle. it doesn't work for everyone. but there are people who just reaction. >> this is "talk to al jazeera." in a minute, dick cavett talks
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about the more memorable appearances on his show including the feud between norman mailer and gor vedal. stay with us.
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♪ >> i am antonio morrow. you are watching "talk to "al jazeera america." i am speak with dick cavett, out encounters". >> when late night exploded in show. >> i did, and i got it in a strange way. it started as a daytime show. and then, they moved me to nighttime following joey bishop. >> you were young. >> yeah, many of my guests are dead. >> 33? >> how old was ? r i? whatever you say will be right. i have learned that already. i was the kid on the staff in some places one particularly where there was a hateful
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schmuck who was the head writer. i am tempted to say his initials are and say his name. >> go ahead. >> but he is gone now. and people always say that nonsense, you can't speak ill of the dead. why the hell now? does that make them great suddenly? anyway, the great david lloyd walking down the hall of cbs and paul came out of the men's room and david lloyd, genius writer, wrote mary tyler moore and taxi and friends. we were at school together. he said, do you remember what you said when paul came out of the men's room? and i said, i asked you what do you think paul does in there? and you said, that's where he puts his best stuff on paper. air? >> no. >> will not take us off of the air. on the contrary. it's a perfect segue. later, david said -- >> david said to him, your parents are owed a retraction. i think that's better. >> i think yours is pretty good.
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>> kind of wit got you sort of identified as the thinking man's talk show host. >> that's what you have been referred to? >> i had to be very careful to not get one more label as intellectual simply as i guess they figured he went to yale. he has to be an intellectual. i can proof to you the truth and that i was dumb enough to think you had to read the guest books all the way through. i feel sorry for anyone who thinks i am an intellectual. have they ever seen a real one? >> you go back and watch. i am old enough to have watched back then. show. >> people tell me that. a lot of it had to do with jack parr. i was addicted to jack before i worked for him. never dreamed i would, of course. at the called me before i did my first talk show he said -- i have a feeling you already know this. he said, look, kid. don't do interviews. i thought, what? do i read to them or sing? interviews.
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>> that's the q and a and what's your favorite this? and let me ask you about this and david frost and his damb clipboard and jet lag and question, question. make it a conversation. think. ? >> that's what makes it good. >> the audience carson had at its peak was double what letterman and leno combined were at their peak. it's credible how that viewership dropped. it did allow you to do these interviews you would never see before, including possibly your most infamous, maybe your more famous one whic gorva dahl and. >> flanker. >> a correspondant? >> who would have thought the show that came closest to blows and violence and nasty words was -- would happen 2 three authors, a deadly word in talk item vision. somebody wrote when cavett says it's a show, he will have the
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author on first. that was supposed to be a stick to hit john income with or merv or someone. that was a spectacular show. i watch it once a year. i have got to put it out where people who have never seen it. mailer and vidal, norman came on pissed to the gills in his pugilist walk. i knew we would have trouble as he walked out to gut gore on the air. he had written about him. they showed the key moment. it distresses me a little because the show builds like a play. but my remembered, always misquoted insult to norman when he said he was more -- implied he was more intelligent than the other people here, and i said, maybe like an extra chair to contain your giant intellect. >> perhaps you would like two more chairs to contain your giant intellect. >> this got a huge laugh, of
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course, at his expense. norman has trouble with humor. i liked him and then he said in my head, i think i have never confessed this before. i think he took me to be david frost by saying, cavett, why don't you just read the next question off of the question sheet? and i heard myself say the immortal: why don't you fold it five ways and put it where the moon don't shine? it's often misquoted. stick it where the sun -- every word wrong. and you will agree that stick it would have been vulgar. >> the rest of it wasn't vulgar at all. somehow, i don't see anybody environment. >> tried to triumph over that when, cavett, is that something you have had canned for years, something you have been waiting to say for years? >> you had the comeback? >> i don't know where i got the t i have to tell you a quote
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from tolstoy? that brought down the house again. and it's a hell of a show. it was the best night of my life in a way. another one, in a way, was the night marlon brandso brought the jaw of paparotso ronnie gallela 8 inches from my face. important. >> that show was something. it was a tough show in a way. teeth. but i loved brando, always. and and i never dreamed to meet show. >> and that's when he punched gulela out? >> we went down to china town.
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>> going back to some of your famous interviews, another important one was with john kerry, now secretary of state. back then, he was a young >> yeah. >> on the show with another vietnam vet. >> that's right. >> and the nixon white house wasn't happy with you. >> the nixon white house, imagined i could use this word about a president, a presidency, sneakily, prepped the guy, young guy who was a right-winger to oppose kerry, left winger, called t.v. booking as they saw
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it. kerry was effecti. so was the other fellow but the white house wasn't thrilled. they thought i didn't let him -- i am just sorry nixon is not with us. let me take that back instantly. what i mean is, i'm sorry he didn't live long enough to see my dick cavett's watergate which was on pbs and you can find it online, and you must see it. dick cavett's water graduate. you can find the whole show. somebody found that i had tons of watergate stuff on my show. i had mitchell. i had g gordon liddy. and you can see him ask if i am a jew, ask somebody. and if you want to just a sample, youtube has the moment where nixon says to his lickspeetle, hr that woulderman, what can we do to screw him?
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have you ever seen your name mentioned by the president of the most powerful man in the country who wants to screw you? context? >> the son of a -- or the indicted co-conspirator found a way. one of my staff told a friend who had been on my staff years, i was audited. he said, so was i. when were you? and it was right after that. and he -- one of nixon's favorite hobbies of his illegal ones was punishing people with the irs, as you know. >> that's no secret. and he, you know, it hurt the smaller people on the staff who didn't make much money. i had been audited every year without nixon, and to be without nixon is a blessing. >> they went after all your staff as a result? >> they went after the staff. the vial filth from his mouth on the tapes is simply record-breaking. and on the special, on dick cavett's watergate, carl
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bernstein points out -- new interviews with him, can and with woodward. the first day of the administration, we had for the first time, we know, a criminal administration in the white house. and instead of celebrating, he is like how we have to get this guy and ruin this guy's business by screwing him this way and so on. and at one point, he wants to know if i am a jew. isn't that fascinateing? >> clive james wrote an he is aabout you and he said for television accurately appalled him but born for television, was. >> what add wonderful man. clive james, british columnist, great wit. i had him on several shows. >> were you appalled, though, by being born for television? because it seems to me that you loved television. entertainment? >> i did. >> in general. >> you are right, not to say clive is wrong if he is watching. i don't know.
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i think you are right, i belong in it. >> still ahead, on "talk to al jazeera" dick cavett on the guests he loved athose he loathed. >> a conflict that started 100 year ago, some say, never ended... revealing... untold stories of the valor... >> they opened fire on the english officers... >> sacrifice... >> i order you to die... >> and ultimate betrayal... drawing lines in the sand that would shape the middle east and frame the conflict today >> world war one: through arab eyes only on al jazeera america
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>> this is talk to al jazeera. i am antonio mora. my guest this week, author and talk show host, dick cavett. >> i want to ask you some of those questions jack parr told you not to ask? >> shoot. >> who do you like the most? who have you liked the most of all of the people? >> betty davis, brando, arson wells and 100 more. one of them is a favorite but if you persist in your folly in pressing me with this, i would
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have to confess that groucho meant the most to me. >> who did you dislike the most? >> spiro agnew was a piece of nothing. it kills me i had him on, they put him on the show. this is before we had two criminals in the white house, the president and the vice president, a great moment in our history they put him on. said he has a good since of humor. we have a lot of cartoons. they cartoon him a lot. he will say funny things about them. he would look at one and say, the way they did your eyes in this one, interesting. >> that's 1 you don't want on your talk show. i have the anagram curse. i see them everywhere. i don't think about them. they just come. spiro agnew, grow a penis. and that's what spiro spells.
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>> how about phonies, people great when they were sitting with the cameras and were terrible when you left? >> i didn't like bufrt parks come to think of it. you prodded that out. he was gooey and insulting and boring. a wonderful man in private life, somewhere. >> a favorite interviewer or entry. i know you had a close relationship with mohammed ali? >> i think i said in the piece again? >> the piece in the book? i am going to look. being just about my best friend for years. he stayed at my house one night out in the country. my wife was in new york. she called. i had gone to get his wife and bring her over. they were in a motel and they wanted to stay at my house. phone rang. ali picked it up and heard, "darling?
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and he said, this ain't darling this is only 3-time heavy weight champion in the world and i am lying in your bed and i am watching your t.v., lady. and she said to her credit, i am going to put a black on that bed, mr. ali. more than she ever did for me. >> we won't go there. >> the book again, you know, got the essay on ali, a bunch of other essays. i loved the blurb from mel brooks, since we are talking about those kinds of things, the best bathroom reading ever written, each story takes just the right amount of time? >> that's genius >> one of the stories? >> genius is
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genius. >> we went into this,s the guy from the ad agency and steve jobs and i entered this elegant restaurant. i don't remember which one it was. steve was dressed in jeans and beat-up loafers and the elegant austrian major doma looked disproving but decided to let us in. steve jobs says, how does it feel to be dick cavett? >> about the only question that's ever floored me. >> you had a long relationship with him. he kept sending you apple products. >> each computer as it came out. i am afraid i have lost some of them. it would have been nice retain them he got sick of sending them to me and said, the next one is coming out. will you finally, learn to use one? i did. it was the white one that sat up like this, you know. >> macintosh.
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you have an ability to write very, very emotional obituaries i would love for you to write mine although i think i would rather hang out longer than that? >> give me some time. clive james wrote there will be no dick calfat of the future and we should contents ours there is one of the past. i think we are lucky there is one of the present and that you are always so generous with your time and you come and join us and talk to us because it's such a pleasure? >> i like you as much as i did stan >>. o obit wary. >> music doesn't change change the world, but it does influence that way people think >> rock icon peter gabriel believes we can all make a difference >> get technology to people... to empower them... to become more effective >> giving a global stage to important issues >> climate change... we've gotta take action >> every saturday,
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