this is "nightline." >> tonight, kiefer sutherland is taking you way behind the scenes of abc's "designated survivor." now we're with real-life designated survivors. >> we went to a secure, undisclosed location. >> we take you inside a once top secret government hide-away. >> welcome to the bunker. >> in case of a national catastrophe. plus "moana," the female hero of disney's newest animated feature. dwayne johnson tells us why this new movie "rocks." >> i've got a pretty good singing voice. >> the star's surprising personal connection to the exotic backdrop. puppet parody. get your cheese cake ready, the
golden girls are back with strings attached. >> i am a southern belle, a belle. >> in a love off-broadway show. first the "nightline 5." >> sometimes my gums bleed, no big deal. by hygienist said it is. >> crest gum prevention, targeting harmful bacteria on your gums. these symptoms could lead to more serious problems. >> gum crisis averted. it's black friday at jcpenney. doors open at 3:00 p.m. on thursday. rush in to save 40% off major appliances. plus get special financing with your jcpenney credit card. that's getting your penny's worth. >> number one in just 60
it may have bun spun into a hollywood tale but the idea of a designated survivor is in fact very real. each year during the state of the union address, there is one person who is ready to assume the presidency in the event our government is wiped out. what's it like to be a real-life designated survivor? here's my "nightline" coanchor juju chang. >> reporter: it is the unthinkable. the doomsday scenario. a catastrophic attack on u.s. soil. the president, congress, the upper levels of government, all wiped up. while it's the stuff of dark thrillers, the creators of abc's most-talked about show "designated survivor" have something very real in mind. >> sir, you are now the president of the united states. >> so this is your presidential motorcade? >> this is a small one. normally there's 16 cars. >> kiefer sutherland playing a meek, low-level cabinet
secretary. who's thrust full yao unprepared into the presidency. >> so help me god. >> reporter: though firmly in the realm of make-believe it's based on a very real, extremely classified safeguard known as the continuity of government plan. >> the problem that the continuity of government plan tries to solve is something called decapitation. >> reporter: abc news consultant and former white house counterterrorism official dick clark ran the program for nearly a decade. he's the only official to ever deploy it in a crisis, during 9/11. while president bush was in the air, vice president cheney was rushed to an underground bunker. >> on 9/11 i activated the continuity of government system. we asked the speaker of the house to leave washington. >> reporter: the government didn't know if more attacks were coming and where. gail norton, george w. bush's secretary of the interior, told "20/20" anchor elizabeth vargas she was one of a handful of high-ranking officials sent to secret locations. >> i know you can't tell me
exactly where you were but can you describe the conditions? >> the shampoo had curdled. the deodorant smelled bad. because it was all so old. >> reporter: she was pressed into duty as the first state of the union designated survivor. >> as we gather tonight, our nation is at war, the economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. >> because we had seen what happened on 9/11, it was much more a real concern than it had ever been before. >> reporter: norton even prepared her possible speech to the american public. >> i didn't write anything on paper, but i certainly thought about it. >> reporter: according to 2004 designated staffer alex vogel, yes, there are staffers in those bunkers too, there are some perks. >> we were very well fed. i think we had steak and lobster and red wine, which was great. they didn't want to us go hungry in the event of an apocalypse,
which was somewhat reassuring. >> reporter: there are several of these cloak and dagger hide-aways. this one in colorado nicknamed the mountain. cheyenne mountain air force station is 2,000 feet deep, hidden behind multiple 25-ton blast doors. three feet thick. five acres dug out of the rock. 15 buildings built to withstand a nuclear bomb. supported on 1,300 of these half-ton steel springs. >> like a shock absorber. >> reporter: it has its own power plant, a 6 million gallon water supply, potentially ready to support not just the president but hundreds of staffers to help him. and then there's the secret entrance to another bunker in west virginia. the wallpapered panel slides away revealing this. >> welcome to the bunker. >> reporter: the greenbrier bunker. >> the floor is five feet thick, the walls are five feet the ceiling is five feet thick. we're in a big concrete box.
>> reporter: underneath a posh ho hotel, this facility was built during the cold war to house congress in case the u.s. capitol was destroyed by a nuclear bomb. these showers were for the congressmen to be decontaminated from nuclear fallout. >> clothing would have gone in. it would have been burned in an incinerator in the power plant. >> reporter: the nuclear fears of the cold war may be a thing of the past but each year a cabinet member is still asked to skip the state of the union address. >> they are then p in a secure location with a support staff before the state of the union begins. and they're brought back only the next morning. >> reporter: former u.s. attorney general alberto gonzalez once served as the designated survivor during president bush's 2007 address to a joint session of congress. >> madam speaker, vice president cheney, members of congress, distinguished guests, and fellow
citizens -- >> my fbi detail drove me to andrews air force base. there were a group of individuals there from various departments and agencies. all carrying these black binders. their job was to advise me in the event that i assumed the presidency. then i settled in, in front of a large monitor, and watched president bush give his state of the union. >> reporter: he talks about his experience in his new book "true faith and allegiance." >> it suddenly hit me in the middle of that speech somewhere, oh my gosh. >> reporter: on the show the white house is destroyed in a murky terror attack. the show invited us to this warehouse turned navy s.e.a.l. training base. >> so this will be the area where you actually film the scene? >> he and i will be here. they'll be actually treading through the compound. >> reporter: the action scenes are high octane. but pondering how an average joe might react to suddenly becoming commander in chief -- >> where are we going? >> presidential emergency operation center. >> reporter: is what makes "designated survivor" a thinking man's thriller. what do you think it takes to be
a good president? >> i think maybe you have to try and not be a good president, you have to try and be a good person. >> good night, daddy. >> good night, little pea. >> in the pilot they bring out the nuclear football. you say, what's the code? >> should i have an eye scan? do you need my fingerprints or an eye scan or something? >> no, sir. it's not like the movies. >> the guy laughs and says, yeah, we don't do that. >> reporter: the show going to great lengths to keep things realistic. we're here on the toronto set of "designated survivor." the cast and crew hard at work. all of this is a stand-in for a swanky neighborhood in alexandra, virginia. every detail well thought out. all the way down to the washington news van. the president's speechwriter a veteran actor with real-life white house cred. >> mr. president. maybe the country's just not ready yet. >> reporter: kal penn, everyone's favorite stoner from "harold and kumar." >> that was the best meal of my life. >> reporter: famously left hollywood to serve in the office
of public engagement in the obama administration. >> you can trust the working conditions inside the beltway and inside hollywood? >> you can't, absurd. >> oh, come on. >> i have an air conditioned trailer and somebody will bring me a coffee if i want it, here. there -- >> you're in cramped quarters. >> i'm eating vending machine sandwiches and working 19 hours a day. >> reporter: on set, penn became a de facto fact checker. >> if you get the kal penn seal of approval that's a good thing? >> flattering unthat ran it's little things. how many people would be in a particular office. would somebody actually run into this person or are we taking creative license with it? >> that's weird. >> reporter: while they might not get everything right, no doubt all the drama will feel true to life. for "nightline" i'm juju chang in toronto. next, dwayne johnson on going from action hero to animated hero for disney's "moana."
all right, with the crazy six-pack and ridiculous gum show on display, dwayne johnson already looks super-human. just wait till you see him in animated form drawing on his musical talent, who knew, for disney's new blockbuster "moana." here's abc's nick watt. >> murdering little pirates. >> reporter: i think it's a fun-filled adventure, but its male costar thinks "moana" is a tear jerker. >> ocean, do something! help us!
>> i've never cried consistently -- the cameramen are laughing -- through a movie than i have with this movie. just to be clear, they're manly tears. >> reporter: dwayne "the rock" johnson voices a fun-loving demi god maui who kind of messes up -- >> you will restore the heart! ah! >> reporter: and it's young moana's job to save her mythical pacific island from his folly, unleashed a terrible curse. >> this is a young girl driving the story, saving the world. >> a new version of a female hero. there is no love interest, no damsel in distress character in her. she represents so many 15, 16-year-old girls out there. i have a 15-year-old daughter who is just like moana, who's ambitious and has a really strong point of view and wants
to tackle the world, loving tapping into her own identity and putting me in my place. >> you are not my hero! and i'm not here so you can sign my oar! >> there are parts of your story reflected in this movie. >> this handsome, brown-eyed soul. >> exactly. >> reporter: i was talking about the ups and downs, highs and lows of his career. >> you just earned yourself a dance with the devil. >> reporter: he's the star of the "fast and furious" franchise and the world's highest-paid actor. but life wasn't always so good. >> played football. didn't make it. failed at that. there were a lot of failures that maui's had to go through as well. >> reporter: moana too, in this movie made by our parent company walt disney. >> she's going to trip and fall and she's going to learn a lesson as she goes along. >> enjoy the island! maui out. >> no, stop, hey, put back the heart! >> there's a great line in the movie where i think my character
says, no, you're a princess. she's very adamant, i'm not a princess, i'm the daughter of the chief but i'm not a princess. and i say something like, listen, you've got a dress and a sidekick. then you're a princess. very funny. it's the best line in the movie. >> it's a good line. >> and i said it. >> it's a good line. >> it's my line. >> yeah. well done. well done. >> thank you. >> and you will journey to -- ah! >> reporter: the message here, never give up. >> and she's back. and there's also another message that i got a pretty good singing voice. ♪ when you were waddling yay high this guy ♪ ♪ when the nights got cold who stole you fire from down below ♪ >> reporter: music composed by among others lin-manuel miranda of "hamilton" fame. ♪ we read the wind and the sky when the sun is high ♪ ♪ we sail the lengths of the seas on the ocean breeze ♪ >> how did you find the time? >> i got this job about six months before "hamilton" started
rehearsals. actually, it's exactly seven and a half months. i know it because i found out i was going to be a father the same day i found out i got the job. it was one of those life-changing days. i'd have skype meetings at 5:00 a.m. with the team in burbank, they've in their sweats and clothes, and i was in an 18th century blouse because i was going to be onstage later. >> it's fair to say you're a fairly physical actor. "walking tall." "san andreas." "hercules." >> hercules! >> reporter: we usually see "the rock." that's kind of the point. >> you hear dwayne "the rock" johnson, oh, there's going to be a character who's going to punch people out, it's going to be awesome. >> how was it to try and project just using your voice?
>> it was exercising a different muscle. it was a great challenge. i roll my sleeves up when i'm challenged that way. there's multiple cameras on you, just like this. as you're saying these lines and how you say them, how your facial expressions are delivering the lines. so all that is infused into the animation. >> the ocean's straight up kooky-dukes! >> reporter: if i was pitching this movie i'd call it a ballsier "frozen". >> you have samoan ancestry? >> polynesian descent. it was an opportunity for us to showcase polynesian culture to the world on the big screen in a way that had never been showcased before. >> we're talking about a system of navigation that is unequaled, to be able to sail into the open sea without maps and compasses and go from one island to find the next by reading the world. and the metaphor of, i have to keep my island and where i'm from in my mind and fixed so i know where i'm going. i mean, you can't ask for a better metaphor as a songwriter.
>> here's a fun fact. the shape of maui and his look, a lot of that was based off my grandfather. he looked like that. samoan high chief who has high chief tattoos all over his body. >> your grandfather who was a wrestler as well? >> correct. >> you are not the hero, you're a bit of a goofball at points. >> well, you know. goofball is a little strong. >> don't be angry. >> 15 samoans beat your [ bleep ] in rugby. he's got this thing. he played brigham young when he was in college, 15 samoans were on the team. he sees my character, it's goofball. >> holding on to resentment clearly here. >> reporter: i'm nick watt for "nightline" in los angeles. >> "mu juan that" is in theaters now. the retirees are coming out of retirement in a "golden girls" puppet show parody.
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♪ thank you for being a friend >> reporter: it's the 1980s cult classic "the golden girls." and now it's back. this time as an off-broadway puppet parody. that golden girls show featuring four unexpectedly saucy single ladies living out their golden years together in miami. just at potty-mouthed and angsty as ever. rose the sweetheart who loves her hometown of st. olaf. dorothy who tells it like it is. sofia, or ma. and blanch, who just loves sex. >> it's like a timeless series that has just gone through the last 30 years. >> reporter: but this puppet show tells the story of the girls before they were the golden girls. >> i don't know, i just don't see this taking off. i mean, who'd want to watch a tv show about four old women living in miami? it will be a blip on the radar. >> you are so right, i give it eight weeks. tops. >> reporter: if they only knew what was to come.
seven seasons and a jaw-dropping 68 emmy nominations. >> see that man over there staring at me? he's undressing me with his eyes. >> do you want to move to another table? >> not yet, he's only half done. >> reporter: the puppets embodying the nuances of the characters. >> i am a southern belle. the belle of the ball. she's a bit of a slut. >> reporter: as for their take on president-elect trump? they're sticking to character. >> wait, ronald reagan is president. >> 1985. that's where we are now. >> reporter: politics aside -- >> the golden girls is about friendship. this is the original "sex and the city." ♪ thank you for being a friend >> reporter: the puppet girls are teaming up with the new york city guy men's chorus to reprise that famous theme. ♪ you're a pal and a confidant >> reporter: for "nightline" i'm juju chang in new york.
>> the "golden girls" remains my daughter's favorite tv show. the beauty of aging gracefully. it was the legendary baseball player satchel paige who said, age is a case of mind over matter. you don't mind, it don't matter. thank you for watching abc news, and as always, we're online at abcnews.com and our "nightline" facebook page. thanks for the company, america. happy thanksgiving.