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February 27, 2022 2:56 pm

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February 27, 2022 2:56 pm

On this week's "CBS Sunday Morning" with guest-host Lee Cowan; We report the latest news on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Mo Rocca looks at the history of how Russia has oppressed Ukrainians over the years. Tracy Smith interviews actor Ryan Reynolds. Martha Teichner talks with the partners of a Savannah, Georgia restaurant that serves as common ground to discuss race. Finally, David Martin sits down with a 24-year veteran of undercover CIA operations.

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I'm Lee Cowan, and this is Sunday Morning. The whole world is watching. It's been a week of chilling news from Ukraine that tells a story that Europe has lived through too many times before. This morning our morocca has a history lesson about the country that's seen more than its fair share of bloodshed. If history is any guide, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is more than a land grab. The attempt to eliminate Ukrainianness and the sense of a separate identity and the sense of nationhood has really been a Russian policy since the 19th century. It was a czarist policy.

Later it was Stalin's policy, and now it's Putin's policy. The long dark history of two countries coming up on Sunday morning. Then it's on to Martha Teichner, who this morning will be taking us to a restaurant in an unconventional location steeped in history, offering a menu that is world-class.

Once this was Savannah's segregated Greyhound bus station. Turning it into the Grey, an award-winning destination restaurant, took serious soul-searching about race by the unlikely business partners who made it happen. It was hard.

It was hard. Later this Sunday morning, their recipe for overcoming a past some would sooner forget. Actor Ryan Reynolds has his hands in a lot of things. He can do romantic comedy, he can play a superhero, even time travel. But he took some time out to talk with our Tracy Smith. So, Margaret. Ryan Reynolds knows all about being the sensitive guy. Marry me. And now as the father of three daughters, it helps at home. What have you learned from being in a house full of young women?

It's really good for me specifically because it forces me to talk about things more. And he'll talk with us about his new movie and more ahead on Sunday morning. David Martin talks with two former CIA agents about a time not so long ago when a difficult decision might have changed the course of history.

Chris Van Cleave is in New Orleans, sampling Mardi Gras royalty, the king cake. Plus, a story from Steve Hartman and more on this Sunday morning, February 27th, 2022. We'll be right back. What we're seeing is not new. Ukraine has had a long and bloody history, a nation caught between East and West, Asia and Europe. We have a history lesson from Morocco.

And then I'll have more on Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Since its independence in 1991, Ukraine has made many hard earned gains and tried to lose at least one little thing. When I was growing up, we called it the Ukraine.

Why did that change? So the Ukraine, the use of that the I think was a reflection of the fact that people weren't quite sure what Ukraine was and Ukrainians, especially in the last 30 years, made a great push to get English speakers to stop doing that because to them they find that patronizing. Pulitzer Prize winning historian Anne Applebaum has written extensively about Russia and Ukraine. It's Ukraine. It's a country.

It has its own state now. It's not the Ukraine any more than you would say, the Russia or the Germany or the France, not according to Russia's President Vladimir Putin. The stable statehood hasn't been built in Ukraine. Who all but denies that Ukraine is its own country.

It is an inherent part of our own history, culture, spiritual space. Russia and the country, it often calls its little brother, can claim common parentage way, way back. In the late Middle Ages, there was a civilization called Kiev and Rus, based in Kiev.

Both Russia and Ukraine trace their origins back to that state. That civilization is said to have been founded in the ninth century by Vikings. But it's, of course, many centuries ago and much has happened since then. In that sense, you know, the Vikings also had a role in the creation of England and the coast of France. And it's a very long time ago. So that if the Vikings today claimed ownership over France, it would be kind of a dubious claim.

Right. I mean, it's as dubious for the Russians to claim control over Ukraine as it would be for the Vikings to claim control over Ukraine or indeed over France or England. Fast forward to 1793, when the bulk of what is now Ukraine became part of the Russian empire under Catherine the Great. Ukraine was a little bit like Ireland used to be within the United Kingdom.

It was a subordinate part of a greater whole of a greater empire. During the revolution that ushered in the Soviet Union, Ukraine fought for independence. It lost and in 1922 was subsumed into the communist state. But it was a separate entity from the beginning.

It always had its own language. It always had its own status inside the USSR. But within a decade, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, fearful of an independent minded Ukraine, brought down the hammer. He had decided to take the land away from the peasants and give it to the state. And very quickly, there was very strong opposition to that in Ukraine.

Stalin would brook no opposition. The atrocity that began in 1932 would come to be known as the Holodomor, Ukrainian for extermination from hunger. So the Holodomor was an artificial famine. That means that it was a famine caused not by crop failure or not by insects or drought. It was a famine that was created by the Soviet state. Local activists went from house to house in rural Ukraine and confiscated food. The idea was to take every last scrap of food. And they knew, of course, that that meant people would die and they they anticipated that would happen. Between 1932 and 1933, some four million Ukrainians starved to death. In a 1984 documentary, one survivor recalled the horror.

They saw a child picking a stalk of wheat, trying to eat those unripe grains. That was a very serious crime. This was a government order to punish anyone, even to death by execution. People survived by eating frogs, toads, mice. They ate the bark of trees. Is it true that some people resorted to cannibalism? Yes, it was actually recorded by the authorities at the time. And of course, that means that in Moscow, people knew that there was cannibalism in Ukraine.

Yes. A second wave of Stalinist terror involved the arrest and murder of Ukrainian intellectuals, artists, even writers of dictionaries. And is it right that they eliminated a letter from the Ukrainian alphabet? Yes, they changed the way the language was written so that it would be more similar to Russian.

You know, you've mentioned so many horrific details. That detail, I find so humiliating to take the language and expunge a letter. The attempt to eliminate Ukrainian-ness and the sense of a separate identity and the sense of nationhood has really been a Russian policy since the 19th century. It was a czarist policy.

Later, it was Stalin's policy. And now it's Putin's policy. Putin believes that an independent, sovereign, democratic Ukraine is a threat to him personally and to his personal power. The one thing that Putin genuinely fears is grassroots democratic movements. And the most important way that he can push back against them is to eliminate that Ukrainian state. Are a lot of Ukrainians today thinking, not again? There's a famous poem by Shevchenko, the Ukrainian national poet, called Calamity. Just as we were beginning to get along, calamity strikes again. Its democracy was solidifying.

Its sense of nationhood was growing stronger. And now this disaster has befallen them. And this feeling that they may be dragged back into some horrific Stalin-era or czarist-era nightmare must be tormenting a lot of them. Vladimir Putin. He's as different from his predecessor, President Boris Yeltsin, as any two political actors could be.

Yeltsin believed in democracy for Russia. Vladimir Putin just pretended he did. During his more than two decades in power, Putin's anger and disdain for the West has been simmering. And yet on the world stage, Putin's anger has been simmering. And yet on the world stage, he largely kept the lid on. Most people believe that he was a pragmatic authoritarian ruler.

And he certainly had these beliefs and grievances against the West, but he was very careful in the way he acted. Angela Stent is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and is one of many who've been sensing that something in Putin has changed. Two years of isolation during the pandemic maybe have affected him. Maybe his grip on reality is somewhat less than it was before, or he's more of a risk taker. He's grown more resentful, more isolated, more erratic, more furious at almost everybody and everything.

Before becoming the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick covered Russia for The Washington Post, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, Lenin's Tomb, The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. If you had just one word to describe Vladimir Putin, what would it be? I think at this point, isolated. Politically isolated from contrary advice, isolated as much as he can manage it from his own population, and isolated from reality. Putin was a young KGB officer stationed in East Germany in 1989, when the Berlin Wall came crashing down. Putin saw the fall of the Soviet Union a short time later as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. It was as if he himself had been humiliated. He takes all this personally.

Well, yes, we all take things personally, but we don't invade countries as a result. Putin was virtually unknown back in 1999 when he rose to power. He quickly set about curating his image as a dynamic and charismatic leader, virile and hardly modest. Strength and power are everything to Vladimir Putin. Every interlocutor who comes from another country to meet with him is made to wait two, three, four, six, seven, eight hours. That's all about this kind of novel that he's writing in his head about the great Putin. He's gone toe to toe now with five U.S. presidents, all the while growing more uneasy of democracy, seeing it as a scourge, sweeping closer to Russia's sphere of influence. Any form of public uprising, no matter how small he believed, had the West behind it pulling the strings and that he was the ultimate target.

If a fight is inevitable, you should strike first, hit first. In 1999, he called on the Russian military to attack separatists from the Russian Republic of Chechnya, branding them as terrorists who deserve no mercy. And he gave them none. When gay rights protests erupted in the lead up to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Putin saw it as an attempt by the West to embarrass him during his big moment. The crackdown was relentless. It was that same year Putin invaded and subsequently annexed Crimea using the unmarked Russian troops who came to be known as the little green men. But even then, some worry that that occupation was just a morsel.

It wouldn't satisfy his appetite for power. His full-scale attack on Ukraine this past week proved that Vladimir Putin's hunger shows no sign of abating. This is a disaster, and it's a disaster that's unfolding every day, and it's a chapter that will be written in blood. You might not expect an old bus station in Savannah to be one of America's hottest restaurants, but with Martha Teichner, we're making a pit stop to visit the gray. The past is what brings tourists to Savannah, Georgia. Its historic district, the antebellum south, caught in a picturesque storybook time warp. A few blocks away is the gray, as in Greyhound, a destination restaurant in this destination city.

Looking for three tuna, Victor Moose. With a very different story to tell about Savannah's past, the story of a reckoning with race. I was just thinking about what this place used to be, a segregated bus terminal, and behind us was the colored entrance and the colored waiting room.

This is what it looked like when it opened in 1938. Not the wreck, John O'Morisano, a transplant from New York City, bought in 2012 and decided to turn into his idealistic dream of what a restaurant could be. In my sort of simple thought process of it, I was a white guy. You know, a black woman would be my perfect counterpart to running this place. Before the meeting, I thought, am I going to be a symbol here? Am I going to be a living, breathing political statement?

Because I didn't want to. Trained in France, Mashama Bailey was a sous chef in New York City, working for a prominent woman chef. When John O', a media entrepreneur with zero restaurant experience, approached her about becoming his partner in the gray. We talked about pork shanks, right? And we both realized that our grandmothers both cooked pork shanks, and that was a common moment for us.

It's nice to come back and see what it is now versus what I remembered as a child. And this is the house? And this is the house.

And although she was born in New York, Mashama had actually lived in Savannah for six years as a child. Factor in the building. The building is an obstacle that you guys have to work with. A building Mashama once would have had to enter by the back door. This isn't about being comfortable.

This is about moving with purpose and thinking ahead. The gray opened in 2014. The loaded history of the place, part of its identity. But John O' and Mashama avoided any discussion of race. That question really came home when we had our tragic event here where, you know, that was where we really had to confront it because it was unspoken. It was unspoken. I was often the only black person in the room. The tragic event was the death in front of Mashama of the gray's general manager, Scott Waldrop, run down by three young men fleeing a shooting in 2017. I didn't know how much I trusted John O until I called him that night.

Scott was a huge part of the gray. I answered the phone and she just was apoplectic, kind of like, you know, wailing and hard to make out. And everything. Maybe we started to really see each other as partners at that point. You know, it's like in tragedy and in trying times, you figure out who your friends are. Yeah. Right. I used to walk the school this way.

I walked the school this way every morning. What started then and continues still is a conversation. I agree with that. Good. I'm glad my plan worked.

Yes. Your plan was awesome. FYI, Mashama swears she didn't rescue a Greyhound because of the restaurant.

I want to add some a la carte items. By the time John O asked her to collaborate with him on a book about the gray, they trusted each other enough to face head on everything both of them had until then left unsaid. And I didn't want to talk about race. I didn't want to talk about our my feelings about race, and I didn't want to talk about his feelings about race. And what happened?

We talked about race. It was hard. It was hard.

Mashama and John O, accompanied by John O's wife, Carol, rented an apartment in Paris and the book took shape. It was like a six week long therapy session about ownership, pride, pain, fear, confusion. It was really about opening those wounds and dealing with them. Was I that guy who was talking a good game about progress, diversity, women's empowerment, because there was nothing at stake?

Why would you hate us if we have nothing that you want? That dialogue, the dialogue that dialogue would become the book, Black, White and the Gray. Was this part of my racism, my legacy that remained hidden away in my unconscious? There's always a question of intent when Black folks and White folks do business together. The emotion was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. And Mashama can talk about how many times I cried and how many times she cried.

It was less than him. The restaurant is their safe space now. You can't walk the streets of Savannah and deny the bounty that this part of the world has to offer. I'm doing some creamed collards. I've never had creamed collards. We smoke half of them, embrace half, and then we blanch the other half and we incorporate it with the bechamel. Little Parmesan cheese, butter, flour. The nice smokiness and the sweetness of the onion. In 2019 Mashama Bailey won a prestigious James Beard Award and is up for another this year for cooking that continues to pile up accolades and blow to pieces preconceived notions about what Southern food is.

The gray is surviving COVID. A painting hangs above the most visible table. There's a Greyhound bus in it. Black people are sitting in the front, Whites in the back. And we had more than a handful of people walk out of the restaurant, you know, before ordering because they were offended by it.

The picture is quietly provocative. Just like the conversation Mashama Bailey and James Beard Mashama Bailey and Jono Morisano have dared to have. I don't think Mashama and I are fixing anybody's problems. I don't think we're fixing Savannah's problems, the South's problems, America's problems. We're not even fixing our own problems. What we're really doing is just creating a dialogue and almost like a safe space for a dialogue between each other.

And that's the best we can do, you know, I think. This is Intelligence Matters with former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Bridge Colby is co-founder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, a project focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. The United States put our mind to something we can usually figure it out.

What people are saying and what we kind of know analytically and empirically is our strategic situation, our military situation is not being matched up with what we're doing. Follow Intelligence Matters wherever you get your podcasts. They're called Shadow Warriors, a small band of CIA agents who carry out the dangerous work of covert missions. David Martin sat down with two of the best to talk about life undercover.

Contact front. Rick Prado at work. The bullets are real.

He's retired from the CIA but still trains local SWAT teams in St. Augustine, Florida. You're a dangerous man. Not to my allies. He calls himself a meat eater and he's not talking about his diet. This looks like a meat eater's room. Well it's once you retire you could put all this stuff on the wall.

Sometimes you have to play hard ball. That's right. So you got the tools of the trade here.

Yeah I like knives because they scare me so I figure they scare everybody else too so they're a good weapon to have. Prado spent 24 years with the CIA and has written a book called Black Ops, the life of a CIA Shadow Warrior. It begins in Cuba when Fidel Castro came to power and seized the Prado's coffee roasting business.

Castro cracked down really really hard. The family gathered for a final dinner together before putting their 10-year-old on a plane to the U.S. by himself. Imagine putting your only child on an airplane to a country that you've never been to with no guarantees that you are going to be able to follow for freedom. He lived in this orphanage until his parents made it out eight months later and settled in Hialeah, Florida.

In 1971 he joined the Air Force and became a pararescueman. I loved it. If you loved it so much why'd you get out? Vietnam was gone. My dream was to go to Vietnam. So no war. I'm out of here.

Exactly. Yeah no real mission. He found his mission in the CIA working undercover with anti-communist rebels at jungle camps in Honduras. What was your job? I was the only CIA officer operating in the camps. All the training that they got I was the one conducting that for them.

It was the best job I've ever had. The rebels were called Contras and like him they had fled a communist revolution, this one in Nicaragua, and were trying to take back their country. So the Contras were your kind of people.

I love them. I saw what that communist octopus monster did to my family, what it did to my country. To be here helping these individuals who have faced the same monster doesn't get any more basic than that. He took a group of lobster divers and turned them into frogmen who blew up a pier at a Nicaraguan port. Here I am a little Cuban guy and now I just cut off some of those tentacles of that damn octopus. The Sandinista dictatorship of Nicaragua with full Cuban-Soviet bloc support. The kid from Cuba was the point man in what became known as the Reagan doctrine. Support for freedom fighters is self-defense. But some Contras were accused of atrocities.

These guys were definitely bad but they were the exception. The majority of the Contras that I work with were simple, god-loving, they're very religious, going in harm's way just to to get their country back. It all came out when this CIA plane was shot down over Nicaragua and one of its crew, a former Marine, was captured.

First thing they teach you when you go out you shake down make sure you don't have anything that compromises you. He had all kinds of stuff. So that blew the whole program out of the water. Boom.

It all goes to hell. So it was very demoralizing not only for me, for everybody that was involved in the station. How could something so good go so wrong? Did the Department of Defense help circumvent Congress and the law as part of the weapons for Contras deal? It mushroomed into the biggest scandal of the Reagan administration.

But Rick Prado's name never surfaced. Still undercover, he stayed on the front lines of the CIA's black ops against communist insurgencies in Peru and the Philippines. I got called up to headquarters by our Office of Medical Service. They wanted to do a psych eval on me of why I was going from danger post to danger post.

So I kind of asked you what did you tell the psychiatrist? I believe in what I'm doing and I'm good at what I do and I am trying to pay back to the bad guys what they did to my family. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism the bad guys were changing. In 1995 Prado was assigned to track a rising financier of terrorism named Osama bin Laden. Prado had never heard of him but he had heard of the CIA operative who had been watching bin Laden. There's only one Billy Waugh in the world.

That's right. Now 92 Billy Waugh is a legend in the world of black ops. He took the CIA's first surveillance photos of bin Laden who back then was living in Khartoum the capital of Sudan. I did take plenty pictures of him yes. So how many photos do you think you took?

Thousand. If you're close enough to take those kind of pictures are you close enough to shoot him? Yes sir and we requested it many times.

You can put that down there. Could have killed him every day of the week. But Waugh's main target was this man a notorious terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal who had orchestrated the spectacular kidnapping of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna in 1975. He was the world's most wanted man living in Khartoum where Waugh found him and took these pictures. Where'd you take him from?

The fifth floor of my hideout and he's across the street from me. The Jackal was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. Bin Laden remained a free man. Was there any thought to trying to take bin Laden out?

Yes of course. Unfortunately the political fortitude wasn't there yet. We could have kidnapped him at that time but we were not allowed to do so. Obviously if bin Laden had been taken off the landscape a lot of history would have been very different but the CIA can't just go around the world kidnapping every fledgling terrorist. So when you say there was wasn't the political will should there have been the political will? I think so and I'm not saying that we should have killed bin Laden at the time but abducting him and getting him into interrogation and see what he would cough up I think that would have been something doable and justifiable. Three years after 9-11 Prado retired frustrated the CIA had turned down his plan for going after terrorists.

How do you justify a target being taken out by a drone but they're abhorred by the fact that you're willing to put a bullet in the same single person's head? And that's why I retired. My time had come.

A lot of people are going to listen to you and say there's a great America and there are going to be people who listen to you and say whoa who let that guy loose or who didn't let that guy loose and what would have been the difference if we would have taken out bin Laden when he was in Khartoum chances are 9-11 would have not happened. Mardi Gras it offers us a brief diversion from the less than happy events of the day so we sent our Chris Van Cleve to the Big Easy to dig into Fat Tuesday's favorite food the royal dessert they call the king cake. It's not as if New Orleanians ever needed an excuse to party but after two years of COVID the two months of indulgence known as Carnival the crew de Jean Dark hereby declares that Carnival has commenced seem pretty well deserved.

After being canceled last year Mardi Gras is back. The parades, the costumes, and the king cake. A traditional sweet treat eaten only at Carnival time in the Crescent City. Every Friday at school kids are eating king cake every day in office break rooms out on the parade route with your friends and family king cake is everywhere. When writer Matt Haynes moved from New York to New Orleans five years ago he was determined to find the very best king cake in town. I started to do some research and I realized god there are hundreds and hundreds of cakes out there so I figured I would try them all I ended up having like 88 of them that year. I'm curious what made you go I need to eat 88 king cakes this Mardi Gras season. Yeah I would have done more but Carnival only lasts so long. He turned all that caloric heavy lifting into what he says is the first ever book about king cakes.

I'm not sure everyone realizes how diverse of a place New Orleans is. Every single cake has a unique baker who has a unique story. And every cake is an extension of that story. The king cake dates back centuries to an ancient Roman festival celebrating the solstice.

Adopted by Christianity versions are still found throughout the world. Most Louisiana king cakes are adorned with purple, green, and gold. And almost all of them come with a tiny plastic baby. Whoever gets the baby has to bring the next cake. Have a good one. You do.

That is a great tradition for you guys. Correct. For every one of these cakes that goes out somebody should be ordering another one.

Yep. Every Carnival season the Cawood brothers Nick and Kenny Jr. along with the rest of their family at Cawood and Randazzo's need, braid, fill, bake, ice, and pack 50,000 cakes with 50,000 babies hidden inside. Pretty hard work for the big easy but they sell enough king cakes during Mardi Gras to close for the rest of the year. When king cake season is done what do you do? Vacation.

We go fishing. For nine months? Four months. And then hunting the other three months. It's crazy huh?

Yeah. I'm in the wrong business. Just down the road at Dong Fong Bakery they're working around the clock under the watchful eye of founder Hung Tran.

Tran fled Vietnam after the war and settled in New Orleans. Her daughter Lynn suggested they start selling king cakes after Katrina. We wanted to give our community the Vietnamese community an option say hey yes you got the baby we're gonna go get a king cake from Dong Fong and you can bring it in and you can be proud of it. That first year they sold only about a hundred. Two per person.

Now they can barely keep up. In 2018 the bakery became king cake royalty earning the prestigious James Beard award. Thank you. Last almond. Do you ever wonder who eats all of this cake?

I do sometimes. It's estimated New Orleanians eat about 750,000 king cakes every year. Not so hard to believe when you consider everything that qualifies as a king cake. We have a non-traditional king cake so there are no rules over here.

At her La Vie En Rose Cafe Kirby Jones pays homage to her creole roots with two offerings. A sweet rose flavored cake and a savory cake stuffed with crawfish. Do you get challenged because this doesn't look like a king cake?

Sure yes so that's why we have these fun names for them. The rose queen cake and this here we call the don creole. While working on his book writer Matt Haynes discovered endless ways bakers can make a king cake but only one way to eat them. With a whole lot of people. You're not supposed to eat king cakes by yourself. You're supposed to share it. The cakes are delicious but the fun part about it is sharing carnival season with everybody. That's what makes it special.

That's what normal is in New Orleans and it feels like we're heading back in that direction. Actor Ryan Reynolds has found himself playing both rom-com heartthrobs and a menacing superhero. But in his latest film he's all about finding himself. Tracy Smith has our sunday profile.

I know that playing it cool isn't really your thing never has been. Wait how do you know my name? Have you ever wished you could go back in time for a do-over? You're Adam Reed born February 10th 2010. In the new Netflix film The Adam Project Ryan Reynolds is Adam Reed a time-traveling fighter pilot from the future who crash lands back to earth in 2022 and meets the person he spent years trying to outgrow his 12-year-old self. You go to Franklin middle school where you've been suspended two maybe three times for fighting which is ironic because you can't fight to save your life.

Which is ironic because you can't fight to save your life. How do you know my dog's name? Because I named him.

Where are you going? He's actually in the scene letting something go. Yeah yeah yeah. He's getting that opportunity he never had to be. 45-year-old Reynolds also produced the film along with director Shawn Levy. For both the story was irresistible. This idea of if you could go back and actually meet your inner child actually meet the self you used to be what would that be like for you what would that be like for that kid? How old are you now? 12.

In the movie both versions of Adam get the chance to make peace with their long-lost dad played by Mark Ruffalo. Is that my jacket? Looks a little tight on you. That's fine. You look like a condom with buttons. This is fun. I'm having fun.

Are you? For the real-life Reynolds the notion of sorting out emotional baggage with one's father all hits very close to home. Reynolds is the youngest of four boys from Vancouver, Canada. Their dad was a former cop who ran a very tight ship. I don't want to paint this picture that it was this like horrible place to grow up but it was very tense. Because of your dad? Yeah my dad was a very tense guy and you know I used to sort of describe him as like a skin-covered landmine. I attribute some of the why I'm good at my job from that I'm perceptive.

I watch carefully for danger and you know as an adult that can really come in handy. Can we be friends? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Shake on it? Let's do that.

Okay. Reynolds has been in more than three dozen films and being a sensitive guy often made him a natural to play the sensitive guy. Like in 2009's The Proposal opposite Sandra Bullock.

So Margaret marry me because I'd like to date you. But if rom-coms put Ryan Reynolds on the Hollywood map this is what made him a global superstar. Fine I only have 12 bullets so you're gonna have to share.

Let's count them down. Deadpool with Reynolds as a disfigured superhero in a mask was a monster hit but only after it sat in limbo for years. You fought for more than a decade to get that movie made. What did you tell yourself through those years? You know it wasn't like I was whipping out a broadsword and heading up the hill to fight my way through the executives again.

It was new leadership would come in and I would go do the song and dance. But wasn't there a moment where you thought okay I'm gonna stop doing the song and dance like this is just not gonna happen for me? Yeah I think it was about a year and a half before we got the green light for the movie. But before he gave up completely this test footage of the movie was leaked on the internet. Oh hello there I bet you're wondering why the red suit?

Well that's so bad guys can't see me bleed. Fans went crazy and that helped convince film bosses to give Reynolds the go-ahead to make the real movie. Oh hello. Deadpool one and two made more than 1.5 billion box office dollars but Reynolds says that like his character in the movies his self-assurance is just an act. So you've talked about struggling with anxiety? Yeah I've had anxiety my whole life really and you know it's there's a I feel like I have two parts of my personality that one takes over when that happens. When I would go out on like Letterman back in the day I would always be nervous but I remember I'd be standing backstage before the curtain would open and I would I would think to myself I'm gonna die I'm literally gonna die here or the curtains gonna open it I'm just gonna be I'm just gonna be a symphony of vomit just like something horrible is gonna happen but as soon as that curtain opens and this happens in my work a lot too it's like this little guy takes over and he's like I got this cool. Ladies gentlemen please welcome Ryan Reynolds. So Ryan come on.

I feel like my heart rate drop and my breathing calm and I just kind of go out and and I'm this different person and it's like I leave that interview going god I'd love to be that guy. Wow I'd love to be that guy that Ryan Reynolds. Sure yeah maybe no one else would but I look at him like that's doing all right out there. Hey it's Ryan Reynolds here with a deal from Mint Mobile to tell you. Seems he's more than all right. Besides his flourishing movie career Reynolds also has stakes in businesses like a cell phone company.

We can sell that up in post guys. A gin maker and a Welsh soccer team. And his recent film Free Guy was a huge hit. It was his first time working with director Sean Levy after a famous buddy insisted they meet. Your matchmaker was Hugh Jackman. Yeah yeah and we met on the dating site That's right but he told me if I ever meet Ryan and if I ever work with Ryan we'll never stop and then from the minute we first met on Free Guy it was gangbusters. They're actually neighbors in New York and they have a few other things in common. Reynolds with his wife actress Blake Lively has three daughters.

Levy and his wife Serena have four. You said that you're coincidentally neighbors. You moved across the country. Well I'm never going to admit that I moved across the country to be closer to him. My rear view mirror features Sean Levy.

If I get a few great movies out of it it's all worth it. Who travels east too? Like you're like the opposite of the Donner party. Except you all made it.

Give us time. Yeah. You get to be so smart.

How'd you get to be so dumb? And while maybe he can't actually time travel Ryan Reynolds has come a long way too. You mentioned that if your 12 year old self could see you now what he would think. Do you give yourself a moment to step back and look at where you are and if so what do you think? Yeah I think I think my 12 year old self would be proud of me because I do this thing in a way that has some integrity. I like to think that 12 year old would look at where I'm at and I'm you know we're doing alright I think. Even at a time of political turmoil there are rays of light reminding us of the inspiring power of good deeds. Steve Hartman has a remarkable case in point.

Students funneling into the Al Raby high school auditorium in Chicago were oblivious. You know what this is about? Not a clue. I don't even know. That each and every one of them was about to hit the lottery. You're gonna hear from me something soon.

It's gonna change everything. Pete Cadence is a businessman who started three companies. You could call him a self-made man but Pete would disagree. He says if he'd had different parents, different peers, different skin color, been raised here on Chicago's west side, he most certainly would not be the multi-millionaire he is today. This country was built on the notion that no matter where you come from you can become successful and wealthy.

That just factually is not true. Is college a dream of yours? Yes a big dream of mine.

You have the money for this? To Pete's point this school is full of kids with big dreams. Nothing? Bridled by harsh realities. Nothing.

But you can't let that stop like hope. Meet Armani Barber. I was thinking about being a lawyer. Armani is a junior near the top of her class.

She knows she can make it through college but doesn't know how she'd pay for any of it. Enter Pete Cadence who along with former Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson hopes to fight inequity with a mammoth initiative called Hope Chicago. There's never been anything of this scale, of this magnitude, of this import done in this community.

This is going to be a game changer and I think it's going to be a model for other cities, large cities across the nation. And it begins right now with this promise. Your college tuition, your room and board, your books and fees will be paid for and you will go to college for free. Every student. And not just here but also at this high school. And this one. For free.

Five total. And because poverty is an intergenerational problem one parent from each family gets to go to college too. Over the next ten years Pete and other donors plan to invest a billion dollars in hope.

But they say the dividends are already pouring down the cheeks of a new generation, finally feeling the dream within their reach. Our commentary this morning comes from John Dickerson. President John Kennedy listed the challenges of the presidency this way. Domestic policy can only defeat us. Foreign policy can kill us.

President Joe Biden faces both unpleasant presidential truths. But Russia's invasion of Ukraine isn't just a test of Joe Biden. It's a test of America, once a global champion of freedom and self-determination whose presidents could rattle the Russians by merely testifying to those ideas out loud. We believe that freedom and security go together.

That the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. Now those ideas are being crushed by Russian tanks. Now America and the American president respond will affect not just Ukraine but the health of those ideas around the globe. At the start of the Cold War it was so important to show American solidarity for liberty against communist tyranny, political parties called a truce. Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Arthur Vandenberg, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed that politics should stop at the water's edge. During the First World War Teddy Roosevelt articulated a different standard. To announce that there must be no criticism of the president is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public. Because presidents have more control over foreign affairs than domestic affairs there should be vigorous debate.

It reminds us of what we believe and if we must sacrifice it helps us understand why. But this moment has a new twist. In an interview after the start of the Russian invasion former President Trump said, this is genius. Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine, of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent.

Oh, that's wonderful. Praising Putin's power at the moment he is crushing human liberty is the perfect negative image of the American ideal. Under this view Reagan would not have called on Premier Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall but praised him for the wall's sturdy construction. During the pandemic many have opposed public safety orders saying they trample liberty. In Ukraine liberty is threatened not by masks but missiles.

The lowest possible bar should be that the ideas of self-determination and freedom have support from the populations who benefit from living under them. History shows that when the signal is clear it inspires. Ukraine's President Zelensky told the Russians when you will be attacking us you will see our faces not our backs.

Whatever the United States and its allies do it should show Ukrainians that they see their faces too. I'm Lee Cowan. Thanks for listening and please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. This is The Takeout with Major Garrett. This week Stephen Law, ally of Mitch McConnell and one of Washington's biggest midterm money men. List for me the two Senate races where you think Republicans have the best chance of taking a Democratic seat away. Nevada, New Hampshire, not Georgia. Well, Georgia's right up there but New Hampshire is a surprise. In New Hampshire people really just kind of don't like Maggie Hassan. For more from this week's conversation follow The Takeout with Major Garrett on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 14:17:09 / 2023-01-29 14:34:27 / 17

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