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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, November 20th, 2014

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Date: November 20, 2014

Guest: Shoba Wadhia, Julian Epstein, Marielena Hincapie, Jacki Esposito,
Janet Snyder, James Lipton

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: A really big news night, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Indeed, thanks.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And it is also a night of very bad weather news for the Buffalo region,
Buffalo, New York, as the death count mounts in the historic snowfall there
that continues to pile up tonight, creating even more dangers.

And in Hollywood tonight, an outpouring of loving remembrance for the
masterful director Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer`s husband, who passed away
last night. Steven Spielberg today called Mike Nichols one of America`s
all-time greatest film and stage directors. James Lipton will join me for
a look at the life and times and achievements of Mike Nichols.

But first, President Obama finally announces his executive action on
immigration. It was a 15-minute speech, but it took only about a minute to
outline the basics of his plan.


following deal: if you`ve been in America for more than five years, if you
have children who are American citizens or legal residents, if you
register, pass a criminal background check and you`re willing to pay your
fair share of taxes, you`ll be able to apply to stay in this country
temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows
and get right with the law.

That`s what this deal is. It does not grant citizenship or the right to
stay here permanently or offer the same benefits that citizens receive.
Only Congress can do that. All we`re saying is, we`re not going to deport


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Shoba Wadhia, a professor at Penn State`s
School of Law, Julian Epstein, former chief minority counsel to the House
Judiciary Committee, and Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the
National Immigration Law Center.

Marielena, you`re going to be in Las Vegas tomorrow when the president
arrives to talk about this there. What do you think the impact is, the
real-life impact of what he said tonight, how do you think it will be
received tomorrow in Nevada?

just arrived to Las Vegas a couple of hours ago.

And the president`s announcement and his decision to use his executive
authority is going to have life-changing impact on individuals. The fact
that individuals, about 5 million immigrants will be able to have their
sense of dignity and respect restored, where they will be finally able to
come forward, work lawfully, pay taxes, support themselves and their
families, and fulfill their full human potential.

That is huge. It`s such a defining moment for America. And it will really
have ripple effects for the individuals directly affected but also for the
families, the community and our economy, our country as a whole.

O`DONNELL: Shoba, the president said that what he was -- all that he is
allowing is for these people to stay in the country temporarily. What does
that temporarily mean?

President Obama made was to prosecutorial discretion. This is a decision
that the immigration agency or executive branch makes about whether or not
to enforce the immigration law against a person or a group of persons.

So, when the executive branch exercises this discretion favorably through
something like deferred action, it`s a temporary reprieve. It does not
leave to an independent path of permanent residency. That`s beyond the
limit of prosecutorial discretion.

O`DONNELL: And, Shoba, it seems that -- according to the White House`s
guidelines on this, that the temporary means three years, that anyone who
is granted this temporary ability to work, because their case is being
deferred under the deferred action option that the agency has, that they
will then be granted this basic right to work for three years.

Is that your understanding of what they`re proposing tonight?

WADHIA: The three-year deferment is what I have heard. And the legality
for granting deferred action and allowing individuals to apply for work
authorization is very much grounded in the statute and the regulations.
The concept of issuing deferred action and work permits based on a deferred
action grant enjoys a very rich history, and has been applied to many of
the same kinds of people who have been prioritized by the president today.

O`DONNELL: And, Marielena, this it seems this is the largest number of
people who had -- who are going to be able to, if they choose, to enjoy a
different kind of life under deferred action, but the president never
mentioned a number tonight because the number it seems to me in his
rhetorical approach, anyway, because it`s actually a definition of a group
that leave you with this number, which is to say family members.

This is entirely about family members, parents of children who are here
totally legally, some of whom were born here as United States citizens.
And these parents do not have the same right as their children, and it`s
trying to match up those rights so that you can keep a family intact in the
United States.

HINCAPIE: Right. The focus of the president`s decision has been to focus
on family reunification, and to make sure parents aren`t ripped away from
their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children. So, that is what
the administration has decided to focus on. And the numbers are estimated
to be about 5 million when you look at the combination of the different
policies that the administration has put together.

O`DONNELL: Julian, I was slow to come around to see what the legal
justification for this was because the White House was absolutely silent
about legal justification. You could ask at the highest levels and you
would get no answer as recently as last week and earlier this week. I
actually had a Democratic member of Congress on the other night, I asked
him if anyone has told him what the legal justification was, and he
actually honestly admitted no. I couldn`t find any Democratic elected
officials who understand the justification.

And it`s because you have to dig kind of deeply into immigration law which
I was guided through by Shoba and other immigration law experts on it. And
you can see that inside it all, there is this really giant hole in these
two words "deferred action" and there`s no limit to the number of people
that the president can allow to basically kind of reside here in the United
States in that category of deferred action as I read it. It seems to me
now that the president`s choice is very solidly grounded in a legal basis.

very, very solid legal ground. Some Republicans are talking about suing.

I think if you listen to what the president was saying about that, he was
saying go ahead, make my day if the Republicans want to try to take him to
court. The statute, the immigration statute makes it expressly clear,
Section 274, that the secretary of homeland security not only has the
discretion for deferred action but has the discretion to grant work

This discretion has been validated and acknowledged by the Supreme Court a
number of times, including in the case we discussed on this show, the
Arizona case of 2012. There is probably -- the president probably has this
authority anyway in his inherent powers, and has been pointed out, there`s
ample authority for the use of this precedent. The best -- ample precedent
rather -- the best precedent in this case is really Bush 41 who deferred
action of 1.4 million undocumenteds because they had a family member who
were legalized. And that`s really a pretty similar situation to what we`re
looking at here.

So, I think the president on the law is saying go ahead, make my day, take
this bait if you want to challenge me legally on this.

If you want to challenge me politically on this, I have a real easy answer.
Do your job, pass immigration reform. You` been saying you want to pass
immigration reform. This is him to the Congress, for six years now, you
haven`t done it, don`t blame me for a stop-gap measure while you have
failed to do your job when I`m exercising my authority that is squarely
within my statutory and inherent authorities.

O`DONNELL: And, Julian, I now want to turn the tables on the opposition
side of this because, you know, I challenged the White House, I challenged
Democrats to show me the legal basis. They couldn`t actually, and I had to
turn to other legal experts to find it. I now would like to know what is
the legal basis for throwing around this word "sue"?

I mean, you know, children can throw around that phrase, I`m going to sue
you, I`m going to sue you, but who has standing to sue under this action
that the president has taken? Doesn`t it require you to have had -- to
have been damage the by the action the president is taking? Who has a
cause of action? What is the capacity for Ted Cruz or these people in
Congress to actually find a courthouse where they can actually mount some
kind of suit against the president on this?

EPSTEIN: Yes, elected officials really won`t have standing. They will
have to find an individual that they can argue was somehow injured by this,
and that, I think, is a stretch. I can see a couple of hypotheticals.

But, you know, I hope they do find somebody and I hope that they do try to
force this case in courts legally because they will lose. The authority as
I said is ample. Every president pretty much since Eisenhower has
exercised this authority. It was exercised really kind of openly and
notoriously by Reagan and by both Bushes, as well as Clinton.

And, you know, we hear this word sue, sue, sue. We talked about it all the
time. We heard these Republicans were so confidently in, you know, this
full-throated way, going to sue the president on the Fast and Furious
investigation. Where did that go? Nowhere.

We heard that they were going to sue the president on Libya. Where did
that go? Nowhere in the courts.

Where did the suit go on the INS contempt citation? Nowhere in the courts.

I mean, somebody needs to be keeping score here. Every time the president
initiates a policy that the Republicans don`t like, they say
unconstitutional, we`re going to sue, we`re going to sue. Well, if anyone
is keeping score here, they will realize the Republicans are batting about
zero on all these legal threats to hold the president accountable, because
they`re just wrong on the law and what the president has done in each of
these cases, including tonight, has been squarely within - again, both his
inherent authority and the explicit statutory authority.

I don`t know why these Democratic members couldn`t find the authority.
There`s ample precedent for it and the Supreme Court has validated it.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for the moment.

Shoba Wadhia, thank you very much for all your guidance on the law on this
in the last few days.

Julian Epstein, thank you for joining us to night.

Marielena Hincapie, thank you very much for joining us.

Thank you all.

EPSTEIN: Thank you.

HINCAPIE: Thank you.

WADHIA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Republican reaction to the president`s plan.

And the vicious weather in the Buffalo region, it is getting worse. It is
already has buried snow. And there`s more on the way. The amount of snow
on the roofs of homes now is getting very dangerously close to the limit of
the weight those roofs can bear. This is a very dangerous situation up
there. And there is more snow coming.

Also, Mike Nichols, one of the greatest film and stage directors of our
time, arrived in this country as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany when he
was 8 years old. Had he arrived just two weeks later, his ship would have
been turned away in one of the most shameful episodes of anti-immigrant
fervor in this country`s history.

We have the video of Mike Nichols telling James Lipton how lucky he was to
be accepted into this country. And James Lipton will join me later to
consider the extraordinary life and achievements of the legendary Mike


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re trying to seduce me. Aren`t you?


O`DONNELL: Mike Nichols died last night at the age of 83. Our deepest
condolences go out to his wife Diane Sawyer and his family.


O`DONNELL: People celebrated the president`s announcement about
immigration tonight outside the White House. But inside the Capitol
building, the president is getting a different, more complicated reaction.
The politics of the president`s executive action is next.



OBAMA: Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from
their patients` arms, or are we a nation that values families and works
together to keep them together?


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jacki Esposito, an immigration policy expert,
and executive editor and immigrant, Richard Wolffe.

Jacki Esposito, your reaction to the president`s announcement tonight? Any
surprises in there?

just we thought he would. And it`s an historic day. We are absolutely
thrilled to be where we are.

O`DONNELL: Richard, why the secrecy about this? I mean, once he said it,
it took about a minute to outline the actual moving parts of it, once you
just get rid of all the rhetoric about what kind of country we are, which
is all nice. But the elements of it, why they didn`t just say what this
was a week ago, instead of allowing all sorts of alarmism to be described -
- to describe it instead of what it actually is?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: I think I would like to expand it. Why didn`t
they do it before the election? They were clearly set up to do so. They
were ready to do so. The policy decisions, the legal framework had all
been made.

They were only discouraged from doing so by a very nervous bunch of House
Democrats largely who said, if you do this, we might end up with a wave
election against us, a bloodbath for Democrats, and, of course, that`s what
happened anyway.

I think this is a president who clearly knew what he wanted to do. He said
this years ago that he thought undocumented immigrants leaving in the
shadows were a civil rights issue, a civil rights issue that he could make
a difference on. He couldn`t take part in the civil rights movement when
he was young. Here was a chance for him to do something different. He
should have gone to the country with it.

Having said that, why the cloak and dagger now? I think they were waiting
for that moment post that international trip. This is the first window
they got.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Ted Cruz said about it on FOX News


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If he goes forward unilaterally defying the
Congress elected by the people, defying the American voters, then it`s
incumbent on Republicans in Congress to use every single constitutional
tool we have to defend the rule of law, to rein in a president so that the
president does not become an unaccountable monarch imposing his own
policies in defiance of the American people.


O`DONNELL: It`s a simple set of tools that they have. By the way,
defunding isn`t one of them, because this immigration service is self-
funding through fees and all sorts of stuff. So, they don`t actually
control the purse strings of that.

But just -- as the president said, you can pass legislation. And, in fact,
you know, if he wants to dare them, they can pass legislation to make it
illegal to do what he actually did. You can write that into immigration
law. He, of course, would veto it. So, you`re going to need 2/3 to pass

But, Jacki, this notion that Ted Cruz wants to advance that somehow there`s
a difficult challenge here for Congress, it`s really easy. Just go at this
in legislation.

ESPOSITO: Well, I think the problem is that the administration and the
president, they have very clear authority to exercise discretion in the
enforcement of immigration law. That`s exactly what they`ve done.

O`DONNELL: You know, I don`t think those guys know it. I mean, I didn`t
know it a week ago and I was trying to find it out. And digging through
the law and, you know, getting the legal experts to guide you to the source
of this wasn`t easy.

And I -- it sounds to me, the Republicans haven`t bothered to do it. And
if any staff member does show it to them, they`re going to say, OK, I don`t
want to know that, I`ve got to make this speech that says it`s evil, you

WOLFFE: Well, anyone (INAUDIBLE) immigration authorities know that they
are actually independent, almost an independent judicial branch. There is
no judicial review.

O`DONNELL: Yes, yes.

WOLFFE: They act with their own authority. There is no independent

And so, if you knew anything about how immigration law works or how
immigration authorities work, they act with that kind of executive power.
So, you know, I think you`re talking about a group of elected officials who
know the politics extremely well and know the policy and the law extremely

O`DONNELL: And you know who it sounds like was not so sure on the law, or
was not guided well on the law was the president of the United States over
a year ago when he said I would have to be an emperor to do what he did
tonight. That quote is coming back to haunt them now because it sound like
he, too, was under-briefed on just how much power resides in the executive
inside that law.

ESPOSITO: Well, I think that`s true. But I will say this -- I think what
the president meant when he said that was I can`t grant relief to everyone
who would have qualified under the Senate bill.

O`DONNELL: It sounded to me like he meant I can`t grant relief more than I
have with these DREAMers. It didn`t sound like he was going, some giant
thing. He was saying, I`ve gone as far as I can go.

ESPOSITO: Well, that may be.

O`DONNELL: We don`t know. There`s two possible interpretations. Yes.

ESPOSITO: It`s hard to say, right?

But I think it is worth pointing out that I don`t think the president did
go as far as he wanted to go. If he was an emperor, he would have granted
relief to the 9 million people who would have qualified under the Senate
bill. He didn`t do that. He took a much more thoughtful approach and
looked at it and said, you know, these are the folks I think I can grant
relief to under the law. And there are some folks who unfortunately I
can`t grant relief to because I don`t have the authority to do that.

So, I think it`s pretty solid.

O`DONNELL: Richard, what about the Republican senators? Sixty-eight votes
in the Senate for what Jacki was just mentioning, which was a -- you know,
with 11 million beneficiaries, a much bigger idea. What are we going to
hear from them about what the president did tonight?

WOLFFE: Well, half of them are running for president themselves,
Republican primary. So I think --

O`DONNELL: Because they were in favor of something much bigger.

WOLFFE: Sure they were. And President Bush was also in favor of things.

As I recall, he had a pretty tough view when it came to things like
security and also the future of the Republican Party.

So, wise heads in a nonpresidential year may see this differently from the
Republican Party, but there is not a chance that Republican senators will
back this. This will be a showdown. They`ve got some tough choices now.
Are they going to shut down the government, impeach the president, or
swallow that pride and go for a Republican infusion with Latino voters?

O`DONNELL: Jacki Esposito, Richard Wolffe, thank you both for joining me
tonight, this big night.

ESPOSITO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Add your voice to the discussion on the immigration action.
Join MSNBC tomorrow on Twitter starting at 11:30 a.m. Eastern. #MSNBCchat.

Coming up, two more feet of snow for people already under six to seven feet
of snow in the Buffalo region. This is getting really scary. It was
already scary. Getting much, much worse up there.

And later, the film, television and theatre legacy of the great and now
late Mike Nichols.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight: Weather danger. Nearly seven feet of
snow have fallen south of Buffalo. And two to three feet of more snow
could be on the way tonight.

NBC`s Lester Holt has this report -- Lester.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Lawrence, good evening.

We got hit by yet another big band, heavy band of snow this afternoon.
Things are calm this hour, but the continuing travel restriction, the fact
the fact that a lot of people can`t get in and out of their homes has made
for some pretty desperate times as we witness both on the ground and in the
air today.

(voice-over): Day three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is absolutely crazy.

HOLT: And the snow keeps falling. And the weight of it all, over fight
feet of snow and counting, is beginning to cause roof collapses. More than
100 patients had to be evacuated from this nursing home in Cheektowaga
today when the roof began to show signs of weakening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The roof is compromised. Obviously, it has not
collapsed yet, but there is potential for it.

HOLT: In Hamburg, more than two dozen people driven from the roads by
whiteout conditions and deep snow have been holed new this Walmart store
since Tuesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Couldn`t ask for a better place to be stranded.

HOLT: From the air today, we could see entire sections of the Buffalo area
painted in white. Roof tops that look like they`ve been slathered in
whipped cream.

South of Buffalo, it gets a lot worse. These are unplowed streets. We can
count dozens of cars that were stopped in their tracks, buried in snow
barely to the roof. It`s visible. It`s like "The Day the Earth Stood

But even as road crews make progress, there were neighborhoods still cut
off, surrounded by chest deep snow. We ventured down one cul-de-sac on
foot where we could only shout a conversation with Mary Ann Sanson (ph).

(on camera): Have you ever seen it like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never seen anything like this. I have lived
in this area my whole life.

HOLT (voice-over): Officials say they`re their best to reach those facing
emergencies and are reminding home bound residents to take precautions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve been stuck here since Monday evening.

HOLT: We met the Schramm family last night. They`re still snow bound.

But today, her husband David finally got out, walking four miles to get
food for their baby Evan.

DAVID SCHRAMM, STRANDED IN SNOW: Worst challenge I had to overcome was the
eight-foot high of snow. And I finally did get to the store, it`s
heartening to find that the cup boards were bare in the manner of speaking.
I was able to get two quarts of milk, which is better than none. I was
also able to get baby food, which was a big plus.

HOLT: The people shoveling the snow off their roof. Six feet of snow on
their roof. Obviously concerned about a collapse of some kind. They can`t
dig their way out of this neighborhood.

Crews are clearing the New York throughway but it is still closed tonight
and hundreds of stranded vehicles remain.

You can see the wall of snow there along the edge of the lake. It`s just a
big gray wall.

Still buried under all that snow, Buffalo`s Ralph Wilson Stadium, where
tonight the Bills have declared a snow day, calling off Sunday`s scheduled
game against the Jets.


(on-camera): And about that woman you saw me shouting across the snowy
yard, we couldn`t get to her, she couldn`t get to us. Well, it was this
house right here.

We`re happy to report that a few hours after our conversation, she was able
to get a tractor in here. They plowed a route, an escape route for her, if
you will.

But again, it`s very difficult going, even once you get outside house,
traveling so folks still doing without a lot of things they`d rather have
right about now.

Lawrence, back to you.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Lester. And joining me now by
phone is Janet Snyder. She`s a Buffalo morning host show, radio host.


She grew up in Buffalo. Janet, you`ve got to start to be worrying about
food supplies in people`s homes where they`re kind of stranded. This is
getting to a really critical point.

JANET SNYDER, BUFFALO RADIO HOST (via telephone): Absolutely. Food
supplies are definitely something we`re concerned about in Western New York
because the throughway is closed.

And the trucks with the food and the milk and everything like that can`t
even get into our area, so that is one of the big concerns as we move
deeper and deeper into this system.

And, of course, as you know, the other concern is, with the weather
changing, we`re going to move from all of this snow -- and a lot of people
have two, three, four feet of snow on their roof -- to rain which will act
like a blanket and increase the weight on all of the roofs with snow.

LAWRENCE: And add to the weight of it at first as that snow gets heavier
and wetter.

SNYDER: It sure -- if you think of it, it would be like a big blanket of
water on the roof. Because what will happen is, when the rain starts, the
snow actually will absorb the rain.

And anyone who has made a snowball before knows the difference between a
light and fluffy snowball and one of those heavy, thick snowballs. And
that`s what it`s going to turn into this weekend.

And, right now, the snow on people`s roofs, it would be like the equivalent
of having two parked cars on your roof. So, that is the transition that
we`re going to be looking at and worrying about -- flooding and roofs

O`DONNELL: Janet Snyder, thank you very much for joining us tonight and
good luck. Thank you, Janet.

SNYDER: Keep us in your thoughts. Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.


Coming up, remembering the great Mike Nichols. James Lipton will be here.


You loved so many of Mike Nichols` movies that you might not know how many
of them actually were Mike Nichols movies. James Lipton is here to tell
you all about it.


He was born Mikhael Igor Peschkowsky in Berlin on November 6th, 1931. His
family fled to America eight years later to escape the looming threat of
the Nazis.

Michael Nichols, as he was called when he arrived here New York City, knew
just two sentences of English. Fifty-seven years later, my next guest,
James Lipton, asked Mike Nichols about those two sentences.


sentences in English.

English," and "Please don`t kiss me."



O`DONNELL: Mike Nichols obviously became fluent in the language and in the
culture of his new country, and went on to become one of the most
accomplished and honored directors of our time.


He is one of only about a dozen people who have won an Oscar, a Tony, an
Emmy, and a Grammy. He actually won one Oscar, nine Tonys, four Emmys, and
one Grammy.

He was nominated for an Oscar five times. He began as a performer in a
college in Chicago where he met Elaine May with whom he would later triumph
on Broadway in what they called "An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine

By then, they had become a popular sketch comedy team, Nichols and May, who
were pioneering the kind of work that, 15 years later, "Saturday Night
Live" would turn into a franchise.

Mike Nichols later said that he didn`t realize it at the time but his work
with Elaine May was his directorial training. He won a Tony for the first
Broadway play he directed, "Barefoot in the Park."

The first time he looked through a camera lens to direct actors was in 1966
when he found himself directing the biggest movie stars in the world.



ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ACTRESS: You have really screwed up, George.


TAYLOR: I mean, you really have.

BURTON: You can sit around with the gin running around your mouth, you can
humiliate me, you can tear me to pieces all night, that`s perfectly OK,
that`s all right.

TAYLOR: You can stand it.

BURTON: I cannot stand it.

TAYLOR: You can stand it. You married me for it.

BURTON: That`s a desperately sick lie.


O`DONNELL: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Richard Burton was not
just a movie star, he was one of the greatest actors of that or any other

And this is what he had to say about his first-time film director of "Who`s
Afraid of Virginia Woolf," --


-- "A director`s chief virtue should be to persuade you to a role. Mike`s
the only one I know who can do it."

Richard Burton had already worked with more than his share of the great
directors by that time and he did not expect to learn anything from this
first-time film director but he did.

Richard Burton later said, "He conspires with you to get your best. He`d
make me throw away a line where I had hit it hard.

I`ve seen the film with an audience and he`s right every time. I didn`t
think I could learn anything about comedy. I had done all of Shakespeares
but, from him, I learned.

From Mike Nichols` second film, "The Graduate," he won the Oscar for Best



DUSTIN HOFFMAN, ACTOR: I have to tell you something.


HOFFMAN: That woman --

ROSS: What.

HOFFMAN: -- that woman, that older woman that I told you about.

ROSS: You mean that one.

HOFFMAN: Yes, the married woman. That wasn`t just some woman.

ROSS: What are you telling me. Benjamin, will you just tell me what this
is all about. Oh, no.

HOFFMAN: Elaine.

ROSS: Oh, my God.

HOFFMAN: Please.

ROSS: Get out of here.

HOFFMAN: Please, don`t cry.

ROSS: Get out, get out, out, get out.


O`DONNELL: When the sad news of Mike Nichols` death last night at the age
of 83 became public, Hollywood began to speak. Steven Spielberg said, --


-- "Mike was a friend, a muse, a mentor, one of America`s all-time greatest
film and stage directors, and one of the most generous people I have ever

"For me, `The Graduate,` was life-altering both as an experience at the
movies as well as a master class about how to stage a scene. Mike had a
brilliant cinematic eye and uncanny hearing for keeping scenes ironic and

"Actors never gave him less than their personal best and then Mike would
get from them even more."

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Gust, Joanne, it`s the most important trip of our lives
in the morning, so let`s get plenty of sleep. I`m going home. Jail beat,
flat mom, oww.

Mario, it`s all on me.


JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: He may be in trouble with the press but he stayed
out of jail. You don`t see God`s hand in this?

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, ACTOR: Well, reasonable people can disagree but I
don`t see God anywhere within miles of this. On the other hand, if you
slept with me tonight, I bet you I could change my mind in a hurry.

ROBERTS: Oh, you would.


O`DONNELL: Tom Hanks released this statement today --


-- "`Forward, we must always move forward. Otherwise, what will become of
us,` said Mike Nichols who changed the lives of those who knew him, who
loved him, who will miss him so."

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: I`ve decided to come here, so I could see, could I
forgive you -- you, who I`ve hated so terribly.

I have borne my hatred up into the sky and made a needle-sharp little star
in the sky out of it. It`s the star of Ethel Rosenberg`s hatred. And it
burns every year, for one night only.


O`DONNELL: Meryl Streep said about Mike Nichols, --


-- "He was an inspiration and joy to know, a director who cried when he
laughed, a friend without whom, well, we can`t imagine our world, an
indelible, irreplaceable man."

JUDE LAW, ACTOR: What do you expect me to do.

ROBERTS: Understand.

LAW: Why did you lie to me.

ROBERTS: Because we said we`d always tell each other the truth.

LAW: What`s so great about the truth. Try lying for a change. It`s the
currency of the world.

ROBERTS: I did what he wanted and, now, he will leave us alone. I love

O`DONNELL: Today, Julia Roberts said, "His musings were like pearls. His
jokes were timeless and perfectly placed. His stories, detailed and wholly
entertaining. His warm embrace was where you wanted to live forever."



ART GARFUNKEL, ACTOR/SINGER: She tells me thoughts I didn`t even know I
had until she tells them to me. It`s unbelievable. I can talk to her.

JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR: You can talk to me, too. Are you in love with me?

GARFUNKEL: I can say things to her I wouldn`t dare say to you.

NICHOLSON: What, for instance?

GARFUNKEL: Things you would laugh at.

NICHOLSON: And I`m laughing now.


GARFUNKEL: She thinks I`m sensitive.


O`DONNELL: Today, Art Garfunkel said, --


-- "To act for him on camera was to glide on a liquid form of intelligence.
Before each scene, Mike gave his actors a brilliant and subversive insight.
As you were stirred, he then got you with something really funny. In this
state of transcendence, he walked away and said, `Roll camera.`"


All successful show business careers involved luck, none more than Mike
Nichols. He might not have lived long enough to have a career, he might
might not have lived long enough to go to high school if he had boarded a
ship to the United States just two weeks later in 1939.


Two weeks after little Michael Nichols walked off that boat in New York
Harbor, America closed its heart to another refugee ship from Europe
carrying Jews, fleeing Nazi Germany like little Michael.

That ship was turned away from American ports and forced to go back to
Europe -- a tragedy told in the book and subsequent movie titled "Voyage of
the Damned." James Lipton asked Mike Nichols --


-- if he thought about what would have happened to him if he left Europe
just two weeks later.


LIPTON: Do you ever reflect on that?

NICHOLS: Always.

LIPTON: Do you?

NICHOLS: Yes. I feel like this is all borrowed time.


O`DONNELL: Seventy-five years of borrowed time and Mike Nichols left his
audience wanting more, much more.



NICHOLS: The most unacknowledged factor in our work is downtime. It`s
time not working on it.

You`ll find that over and over and over you can`t solve something, and
you`d leave it alone and you go away, and you come back, and you can.

All my working life, I thought I really am very lazy. And indeed I am, in
some ways.

But we all feel lazy. There`s always more work that we know we should be
doing. And everybody says "Lazy." Are you nuts. You made us work now 48
hours in a row and you say you`re lazy? Yes.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, of course, the host of "Inside the Actors
Studio," James Lipton. Just, again, I mean, there are so many wonderful
interviews you`ve done but when something like this happens, it`s the first
place we go.

We go to, "What did he tell James." And I`ve been watching that today and
it`s just a stunning, instructional and it`s a wonderful life story.

You taught me things about him I didn`t know. But I just want to open it
up to whatever you want to say about this.

LIPTON: How long do you got? I got a call from Mike once in, I think, the
second year of the show. And he said he had watched one of the episodes.

And I said, "Do you want to be on it." And he said, "Oh, I don`t do that."
Mike forgot and he came on.

He told us about the Bremen incident and --


LIPTON: -- the St. Louis incident, and living on borrowed time. What
strikes me about Mike Nichols most forcefully is that he may be the end of
the line. He may be one of the last of the great actors, directors.

O`DONNELL: Oh, yes, yes.

LIPTON: In our lexicon, that`s a very, very high compliment.

O`DONNELL: Jim, did most of them start as actors.

LIPTON: They started in the theater.


LIPTON: We`re talking about Kazan. We`re talking about Arthur Penn.
We`re talking about Sydney Lumet.


LIPTON: These were people who focused on what -- on the actor. They
understood something from the theater.

They understood something from their training, most of them in the
Stanislavski`s system, namely that when everbody else steps back at the end
of the day, the director, the writer, the producer, the ushers, what`s left
on the stage and in front of the camera -- the actor.

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

LIPTON: They were actors. They were putting the actor at the service of
the play or the film.

Today, most of our directors, brilliant directors, great directors, they
come out of film school where the emphasis is on the technology.

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

LIPTON: And where the actor is at the service of the picture. That`s a
vast difference.

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

LIPTON: Meryl Streep told me, when she was on the show, that he was the
most deceptive of counselors. He would take you aside to give you a
direction, and he would talk to you.

And at the end of that conversation, you were under the impression that you
had come up with the idea.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh.

LIPTON: Now, that`s perfect.


LIPTON: It was your idea all along. You forgot that he had told you
to do it. And, of course, it was always right.

What he did was -- I mean, I think that the greatest thing that an actor or
a director, or a writer can do is to provide you with surprises.

If you can`t outguess them, if what they do seems, at first, incredible
and, finally, inevitable, then you know you`re dealing with a genius. He
was absolutely a genius of course.

O`DONNELL: Now, I think, people outside the business might think that,
"Oh, well, actors love directors. It`s perfectly normal."

It`s unusual for them to love directors the way they loved Mike Nichols.
And, most of the time, they, at best, they are coworkers, sometimes, they
hate them.

But what we`re seeing today, from Julia Roberts, to Tom Hanks, to across-
the-board, --


-- is genuine love.

LIPTON: Without question. But he had many ways of achieving that. The
end of "The Graduate" is one of the greatest film endings of all time.

And you know how he got it? He told me, he said, "I was nice to them all
day, the two of them." They were shooting the wedding scene where he
rescued her and they went and jumped on the bus.

And so, he said, "We got to the point where they jumped on the bus." And
they said, "What do we do now?" He said, "I don`t know."

He said, "Why don`t you laugh a lot, just laugh a lot."

But they said, "But where are we going. What`s happening."

He said, "Get on the bus. I have no time. I`m running out of time. Get
on the" --

He put them on the bus, put the camera on them, and what you see, he
trapped them, trapped them brilliantly and sweetly and forever into this
extraordinary moment.

They`re looking at each other. What they`re trying to do is to figure out
what to do next. Well, what are the characters doing -- they`re trying to
figure out what to do next. And so, the picture ends.

And he said that when he looked at the dailies, he said, "Oh, my God, --


-- that`s the end of my movie."

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh, yes.

LIPTON: And it`s that kind of extraordinary sensitive perception that he
had at every moment when he was directing that made him one of the greatest
directors ever and that --


O`DONNELL: And Dustin Hoffman said today about "The Graduate," lovingly,
of course, that casting Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate," Mike Nichols`
choice, was the bravest castings --

LIPTON: Oh, absolutely.

O`DONNELL: -- that he, Dustin Hoffman, is aware of.

LIPTON: Absolutely. Everything that he did was right.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And Dustin Hoffman was unknown. He was not a movie star.
He was to carry this movie.

LIPTON: Oh, he was too short, he was too --

O`DONNELL: Right. And he wasn`t that classic American boy.

LIPTON: They wanted Redford.


LIPTON: The studio wanted Redford. And so, that was the archetype. And
Dustin told me that he said to Mike, "I`m wrong for it. I`m wrong for the

And, of course, Mike said, "No, you`re not." And he was right. He was
absolutely right.

O`DONNELL: I met Mike Nichols first time when he was doing "Charlie
Wilson`s War," at a dinner table in L.A. And you would never know this was
in the middle of a shoot.

And it`s a Wednesday night, you know. And, normally, they`re not available
to go to dinner. And if they -- if a director can go to dinner at that
time, they`re kind of -- they tend to be not present and frantic and
worried about tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. and all that.

And it was as if, you know, he had just kind of walked in off the beach and
was going to sit here and have a nice dinner and chat, and no pressure on
him at all.

LIPTON: He said more wise things, I think, "Inside the Actors Studio" than
almost anyone else, few other people included perhaps but --


-- he said -- I asked him, "What is the difference between theater and
film." He said, "Film is an act of the unconscious. It is the unconscious
speaking to all of the other unconsciouses."


And that, I think, defines film as well as anything I`ve ever heard. He
said he was sitting alone in the dark and the dream begins.


And you tap into your unconscious. He said that was the way he worked --
his unconscious talking to all the other unconsciouses. You know what he
said when I asked him that historic question?

O`DONNELL: Yes, go ahead.

LIPTON: If heaven exists, what would you like your God say when you arrive
at the Pearly Gates. And he said, "Welcome." He said, "Welcome, Mike and

O`DONNELL: And Diane is still with us. We`re very sorry for her loss. He
was so generous. She is the same way, you know.

As an audience member -- you know, you don`t think of these people as
audience members. He was an audience member of mine when I was about five
months into this show.

And I get this e-mail from Mike after a show with words like "funny" and
"beautiful." I`m talking about what he`d seen me do.

I was just stunned that he -- not only was he out there watching but he has
all this time and he has this generosity to let me know this.

LIPTON: That`s the word. He was generous.


LIPTON: He was generous at himself. He was generous to other people. He
was generous to his actors. And most of all, he was generous to his


LIPTON: He trusted his audience.

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

LIPTON: There are directors, thousands of them in the history of film, who
do not really trust the audience. They tell them too much, they explain
too much, they push them, they try to manipulate them.

No, Mike worked with his actors in such a way that what happened was
inevitable. And the audience -- instead of going to the audience, the
audience came to him --

O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm.

LIPTON: -- in these films. And, really --

O`DONNELL: We`ve got to go. It`s 11:00 o`clock. But then, his last Tony
speech, when he accepted his last Tony two years ago, it was in a theater
where he had appeared once before, winning a pie-eating contest when he was
a kid. He said that was nice, but this is better. What a life, what a

James Lipton, thank you --

LIPTON: What a man.

O`DONNELL: -- very much. We need you, on a night like this to give us
the perspective on this career. Thank you very much - really, really
appreciate you coming in.

LIPTON: Thank you.


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