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May 9, 2021 1:00 pm

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May 9, 2021 1:00 pm

In our cover story, Lee Cowan meets with parents who have lost children to hazing rituals. Tracy Smith talks with Allison Janney, star of the hit sitcom "Mom," which is ending its eight-year run this week. Erin Moriarty sits down with voting rights advocate and novelist Stacey Abrams. Jim Axelrod interviews actor-director Andrew McCarthy about his "Brat Pack" memoir and David Pogue goes inside the creation of emoji.

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Learn more at Good morning and happy Mother's Day. I'm Jane Pauley and this is Sunday Morning.

Today is the day for celebrating and honoring motherhood. Even so, a recent tragedy in Ohio reminds us that a common initiation rite, hazing, continues to inflict lasting pain on the mothers and fathers of too many young people of college age. Still, somehow it persists despite laws and widespread condemnation, as Lee Cowan will report. Pledging a fraternity or a sorority is supposed to be about brotherhood and sisterhood, but for many, being accepted also means being hazed, often without mercy. That's not how you start a friendship. Nobody starts a friendship by hurting the other person.

So why would you do that? This picture is the last picture I have of my son and I. The unlikely alliance that's fighting publicly to end a secretive tradition. Ahead on Sunday Morning. Then it's on to TV's working mom, Allison Janney, the Oscar-winning actress who's enjoyed a long career as a star of stage and screen. With Tracy Smith, we'll pay her a Mother's Day visit. Aren't you a little old to be blaming all your problems on your mother? Hi mom. Allison Janney has two Emmys and an Oscar just for playing mothers.

So where do you keep these things? Well the Oscars moved around depending on who's coming over. I made you a champion knowing you'd hate me for it. That's the sacrifice a mother makes. The mother of all on-screen moms, Allison Janney, later on Sunday Morning. We're in conversation this morning with Stacey Abrams, the Georgia politician who was a force in last year's presidential election, but she's a woman of many other talents as she'll tell Erin Moriarty. I plan to run for office again but I have no decision about what's going to be next. Presidency? I know you have said in the past. In the future, yes, that is something I would like to run for. Stacey Abrams has always dreamed big and accomplished much, but there's also another side to the political activists from Georgia.

I think people will be surprised. Coming up on Sunday Morning, a conversation with a woman of many talents and identities. Jim Axelrod catches up with Hollywood Brat Pack alum Andrew McCarthy.

Faith Salie has a step-by-step history of tap dancing. Plus Josh Seftel's Mother's Day check-in with his mom, along with Steve Hartman, David Sedaris, and more. It's Sunday Morning, May 9th, 2021, and we'll be right back. The indictment last month of eight young men in the hazing death of a fraternity pledge in Ohio reminds us the practice is far from gone, which means the list of mothers and fathers facing unspeakable loss continues to grow, as Lee Cowan explains. For Rae Ann Groover and Evelyn Piazza, Mother's Day has never been the same since 2017, because that's the year they lost their sons, Timothy Piazza and Max Groover. Both were away at college, Timothy at Penn State, Max at Louisiana State.

Both had pledged fraternities, and both were hazed. This is our last family picture taken together at the Rose Bowl, January 2nd in 2017. What happened to their sons often becomes a topic of conversation on college campuses.

This picture is the last picture I have of my son and I. Like here at the University of Pittsburgh last year, where Evelyn and Rae Ann told their stories to a room filled with kids who would have been their son's peers. A day and a half ago, he was alive and happy. What happened at that fraternity house?

And when the nurse told me to kiss my baby goodbye, and you're just looking at your son laying there, thinking I can't believe this is it, this isn't right, not like this, it's just not right. Tim's Beta Theta Pi brothers had forced him to drink until he was falling down drunk. The last time it's believed, down a flight of stairs, suffering a traumatic brain injury. No one called 911 for nearly 12 hours. At the end of Max's night, at Phi Delta Theta, his lips had turned blue. And with six times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, his brothers left him to sleep it off on a couch.

He never woke up. Just knowing some someone could be that mean to someone else and be that mean to your child, and that's how your child died, was with somebody treating him so horribly. And for what?

To join a fraternity? Talking about their pain has become almost a full-time job for their husbands, too. Jim Piazza and Steve Groover. In less than 90 minutes, Tim had the equivalent of 18 drinks, and then they let him lie there as he was slowly dying right in front of their eyes. They just can feel it. They can relate to two mothers, and they can relate to the right in front of their eyes. They just can feel it. They can relate to two mothers up there telling these stories because they think about their moms.

Max was forced to consume 18 to 20 pulls off of those bottles, which has been calculated to be at least 32 ounces of diesel, of grain alcohol. As many as 150,000 students have heard their message so far. Many brought to tears by it, like at this Greek leadership conference in Indianapolis last year.

We just feel like we're the puppets at the end of the strings, and those boys are just up there guiding us, showing us the path. It's really tough to hear, which I guess is really the point. When you're talking about hazing, it just should not be sugar-coated or lightly talked about. That said, though, you don't preach, though. You really just tell your stories. If we can get them to feel it, I think they'll do something.

Why is it such an intractable problem? To put it succinctly, for many groups, pledging equals hazing, hazing equals pledging. Hank Neuauer is professor emeritus at Franklin College in Indiana. He's written five books on the subject of hazing. His research uncovered at least one hazing-related death every single year since 1959.

In some years, there were many more. It tarnishes the Greek system, tarnishes our universities, and is totally preventable. 2020 passed with some close calls, but no hazing fatalities. A pleasant surprise for such a dark year. But, unfortunately, the same can't be said for 2021. So far, two deaths are being investigated as the result of hazing.

Stone Foltz, a sophomore at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, and Adam Oakes, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University. Usually, when a death occurs, there's circling of the wagons. You often find that lawyers and parents are phoned before 9-1-1. It could point to quite a few deaths that didn't have to happen if somebody had only made the call. If they weren't worried about getting in trouble themselves.

If they weren't trying to cover their butts. Around 700,000 undergraduates call themselves members of a fraternity or a sorority. But it's fraternities where hazing is most acute. According to a 2008 study, 73 percent of fraternity and sorority members reported being hazed.

And the Piazzas and the Groovers knew that real change had to come from within the Greek system itself. That's meeting with the enemy in a lot of ways, right? I had a pretty terse exchange with Judd Horace initially. I just started with, I was sorry.

And I think I said it 20 times. Judson Horace is the president and CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference, a national governing association which represents 58 fraternities. We have the same common enemy. It's hazing. To combat that enemy, grieving parents, along with leaders of national fraternity and sororities, are now coming together in an unlikely alliance, the anti-hazing coalition. You know, the parents bring such a level of moral authority to the issue. But they can also get legislatures to do things, college universities, national organizations. They are inviting people in to be a part of the solution. One of their aims is to change both state and federal laws to make hazing just as illegal and just as unacceptable as drunk driving.

I'll have two meaningless deaths and a paralyzation from the waist down. What are you really asking for when you drink before you drive? Much the way Mothers Against Drunk Driving did back in the 80s and 90s. It took mad a decade.

So this is going to take a while. Currently, 44 states have passed laws prohibiting hazing, but most treat it only as a misdemeanor. But that's changing. Just recently, in the alcohol-related death of Stone Folds, that pledge at Bowling Green State University, eight students were charged, and many with felonies. The End All Hazing Act was also reintroduced in the Senate this past March. It would mandate colleges and universities disclose any hazing incidents to both parents and potential pledges alike. This way, a parent or student can use that as a tool for good decision-making. And then you can say, oh, Beta Theta Pi was suspended four years ago for hazing for a year. Maybe we shouldn't consider that one.

Inside the Greek system, they say they've seen some change as well. You see so many chapters, fraternities mostly, but sororities as well, that are being shut down for periods of time now because people are reporting, because the universities are saying, we can't have that. I always ask folks, who in here is for hazing? Not a hand goes up. The hazers are cowards.

They're not going to raise their hands. But the point is, they're in the minority. Let that empower you to stand up and make a change. The Groovers and the Piazzas are keeping the pressure on, talking about their boys in any way they can, until the idea of hazing is seen as a sign of weakness instead of some twisted proof of loyalty. We'll say these stories as many times as we have to if it's changing the culture. You're releasing some of that pain when you talk, and hopefully we're effective and people are listening.

So it's worth it. She's forged a reputation in recent years as a fighter for voting rights. And then there's her other, somewhat less well-known literary calling. Who is she? Here's Erin Moriarty. Rising again, Avery carefully folded the pages in her hand and crossed to the door.

This time, when her hand closed on the brass handle, the rage was steady and cool. If you don't know the name Selena Montgomery, here's a hint. It's the pen name of a best-selling author who has written eight romance novels and now her first thriller. She had been a lot of things in her life.

Some legal, some questionable. I don't remember not writing. I think as soon as I learned to read and write, I was hard at it. And this book, While Justice Sleeps, bears her real name, Stacey Abrams. Yes, that Stacey Abrams. I think people will be surprised. If they don't know that I've written fiction before, I think they'll be surprised. And yet, it really shouldn't surprise anyone that this 47-year-old Yale education tax lawyer, long-time Georgia politician, and voting rights activist could dream up a complicated plot that involves gene therapy, a corrupt American president, and a female Supreme Court law clerk. How do you have time for not only just writing these books, but the research that's involved? So I'm the daughter of a research librarian. My mom was a research librarian when I was growing up.

I grew up not only writing, but learning how to research, learning how to dive in, and think strategically about how to learn new things. Your main character is always a woman of color who's smart and gutsy and cool under pressure. In short, Stacey Abrams.

Well, I try to emulate my characters and I try to have my characters reflect who I am. Abrams grew up in Mississippi and then Georgia. Her parents, who both became Methodist ministers later in life, encouraged their six children to have high aspirations, big dreams that sometimes ran into hard reality. In 1991, Abrams, as valedictorian of her high school class, was invited to meet the governor of Georgia. My parents and I arrived on the MARTA bus because we didn't have a car. We go up the driveway of the governor's mansion, we get to the guard gate, and the guard stops us and tells us we don't belong there, that it's a private event. My dad says, no, this is my daughter Stacey.

We have an invitation, but the guard doesn't ask for the invitation that my mom has. But I remember watching him watch the bus pull off. And weren't you mortified?

Oh, absolutely. And if my mother had not had my arm in a death grip, I would have been back on that bus. I think two things happened that day. One, they were not going to let me be denied this honor that I'd achieved.

But two, I think they wanted me to see my responsibility is to not let someone else tell me who I am and where I belong. She has never forgotten that lesson. In 2006, she won a seat as a Democrat in the Georgia Assembly and became the first female minority leader of her party. In 2018, she hoped to go back to the governor's mansion by running for governor. I don't want anyone to elect me because I'm black. I don't want anyone to elect me because I'm a woman.

But we need to elect me because I'm better. Her opponent was Brian Kemp. At the time, the Georgia Secretary of State who ran the election, he won the governor's race by less than two percentage points. You admitted that the new governor would be Brian Kemp, but you didn't concede.

I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election. But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state, baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people's democratic right to vote has been truly appalling. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Kemp, during his time as Secretary of State, purged 1.5 million voters from election rolls. Kemp says he was eliminating ineligible voters to protect the people of the state. Ineligible voters to protect the integrity of the election. Abrams claims by doing that, Kemp stole the election. You know that some people say, then what is the difference between Stacey Abrams not conceding an election in 2018 and President Trump not conceding an election two years later?

Words matter. What I have fought for, what I have said consistently, what even they will admit, those who are unhappy with me, is that I never once filed a challenge to make myself a governor of Georgia. I have always ever fought to make certain that every vote got counted and every person got included. Were you angry after the election?

Oh, yes. I did the stages of grief. I spent a lot of time in anger. That was my favorite stage.

I came back several times, built a small condo. And then, you might say, Abrams got even. She started Fair Fight, a voter registration group that is widely credited with helping President Joe Biden win the state of Georgia in the 2020 election and in a runoff election held on January 5th, put two new Democrats in the U.S. Senate. It was no coincidence, says Abrams, that one day later, protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol, some carrying the Confederate flag.

That flag has always been a declaration of domestic terrorism against communities they thought were not worthy of being able to call themselves citizens. And so, yes, there is absolutely a through line from what we accomplished in Georgia to what happened on January 6th. The winds were also the impetus for new election laws pushed by Republicans to have elections in state legislatures, which Abrams says are really designed to deny poor and older voters of color a voice in elections. You earlier said people take voting for granted. When you've never had to think about the hardship of voting, then yes, these conversations about voter suppression seem absurd to you. When you've never spent more than seven minutes in line, it is nearly impossible to imagine that there are poor black people who stand in line for eight hours, miss an entire day's wages, risk losing their jobs simply to cast a ballot in an election that may or may not have any benefit in their lives.

Hello, Georgia. Ensuring that right to vote may someday help Abrams achieve her greatest dream, running for president. Do I hold it as an ambition?

Absolutely. And even more importantly, when someone asks me if that's my ambition, I have a responsibility to say yes for every young woman, every person of color, every young person of color who sees me and decides what they're capable of based on what I think I'm capable of. Again, it's about you cannot have those things you refuse to dream of. With Georgia, Florida, and most recently Texas passing laws that limit voting, Abrams is expanding Fair Fight's efforts around the country. She has a virtual book tour plan for her new novel and, of course, more books to write, which leaves little time for anything else.

How do you have any time for personal life? Well, let's be clear. So, Fair Fight, there's also the Southern Economic Advancement Project. There's her account. There's writing. You're making my point for me. You're making my point.

But here's my point. I would love to give priority to my personal life. The last year has made that a little less possible. I was dating someone before the pandemic hit.

It ended before the pandemic did. But I look forward to... Because you were so busy? Because you just didn't have time? That was the complaint. And also you're a very public person. He also found that a bit distracting, yes.

That said, hopefully there's another guy out there for whom those are not disqualifiers. Is that one of your goals? Yes. It's nice to like somebody and to have someone like you. I wrote a lot of books about it. It's Sunday morning on CBS and here again is Jane Pauley. That's actor Andrew McCarthy winning Molly Ringwalt's heart in the romantic final scene of the 1986 teen classic, Pretty in Pink. He's gone through a lot of changes since then, as he tells our Jim Axelrod. I lived here in this one, early mid-80s. If, as the wise man said, you live your life going forward but understand it looking backward...

So I was here for St. Elmo's fire, Pretty in Pink, mannequin. Then Andrew McCarthy is understanding a lot more about his life these days. You don't lie, do you?

I don't have to lie. The actor, who starred in a string of 80s movies, is out with a book published by Simon & Schuster Australia, part of ViacomCBS, examining the years this charter member of the Brat Pack was just getting started. I wanted to take you home but they wouldn't let me. Hitting it big on the west coast...

I literally found my mattress right there across the street on the corner when I moved in and I just dragged it upstairs. While still living the life of a starving artist in Greenwich Village. Overnight he was walking the red carpet and not always handling things very well. Like at the premiere of Pretty in Pink with co-star James Spader.

Absolutely. I was completely drunk. It's my first premiere of a movie.

My name comes up on the screen, I just got up and left and went to the bar across the street and got drunk. McCarthy, born 58 years ago in Westfield, New Jersey, was pulled to acting in high school. Next was NYU where a teacher warned him to master his craft and not rely on charisma. When she says to you, if you keep smiling like that you're going to charm us all and it's going to be your downfall. But what's interesting about that is that I was like, yeah you're down for who cares if you like me and you want me to keep going, you know what I mean, so I really did want that.

Very nice to meet you Mrs. Burroughs. He kept going, catching lightning in a bottle cast opposite Jacqueline Bissett in the movie Class before he was 20. Knowing he was new to the business, the then 38 year old international sex symbol invited McCarthy to stay at her home in the Hollywood Hills. When we're talking about things that were happening to you that weren't happening to other 20 year olds.

That would be one of them, that would definitely be one of them. No, Andrew McCarthy was not living the life of your average 20-something as he writes about one interaction with Bissett when he was lying down in her den and she approached. She kissed me once deeply.

Oh that, oh now you're just going for just right for trash. I am asking the question the 15 year old me would want to know the answer to. Just one time it was one of those adolescent fantasies that just happened and that just happened. Quick, what's the meaning of life? It may have just been one kiss but McCarthy was getting the idea life was changing.

Two years later when Saint Elmo's fire came out, he knew it for sure. If you were a New York actor you were a New York actor but the second the Brat Pack happened that went out the window when I was Brat Packer. An article in New York Magazine profiled a group of actors they called the Brat Pack. Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy among others and it wasn't complementary. This wasn't the Rat Pack.

No, this wasn't cool dudes. This was a bunch of little punks who thought they were hot stuff. Airbrushed off the cover, Andrew McCarthy was making acquaintance with a feeling that's been with him when thinking about the Brat Pack for the last 35 years.

Ambivalence. At first when I saw the cover I was like wait I'm in that picture and then I read the article and thank god I'm not in that picture. From there it was on to Pretty in Pink and the male lead, Blaine, opposite Molly Ringwald.

We just got these glasses in. They weren't interested in me auditioning for the part because it was written for a square jawed you know hulking quarterback stud dude and I read with Molly and they went okay thank you and when I walked out Molly you know turned to John Hughes and said that's the guy and John Hughes is like that wimp and he's like no he's sensitive he's poetic that's the kind of guy I'd fall for. That changed my life.

Molly changed my life. It was all happening so quickly, too quickly, to feel that he'd earned it. The words of his teacher at NYU echoed painfully.

I didn't know who I was yet and so then suddenly stuff is coming at you and so you either ride that or you recoil from it or you kind of go well I'm faking it or I'm fooling you know. His struggle played out under bright lights on about the biggest stage there is at the 75th anniversary of Paramount Pictures in 1987. He was alongside Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Olivia de Havilland, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, there's Andy over in the corner.

And not thinking for even a split second that he belonged. And the publicist kept coming up do you want to meet somebody do you want to? I said I'd like to meet Jimmy Stewart you know I mean who wouldn't want to meet?

So they brought me over to Jimmy Stewart and I just I said Mr. Stewart it's a pleasure to meet you sir my pleasure Andrew. But I remember him looking right in my eye and his sort of watery blue eyes and I knew I was projecting at the time this sort of disappointment and shame as he looked at me. And it was exactly what I felt about myself. And there's Tom Cruise in a bright red sweater center third row standing there like this in the photo and I just go wow I just never was that guy I could never in a million years been in that red sweater standing in the third row. I'm not that person I don't didn't ever want to be that person.

In the years since Andrew McCarthy has learned what kind of person he is. One happier behind the camera. Directing TV shows like Orange is the New Black and The Blacklist. I always say directing is stressful and acting causes anxiety. I'd rather be under stressed and feel anxiety from within.

And I have every actor anxiety that there is so when I see it in another actor I'm able to disarm it quickly because I'm like dude I know. Which has finally left him ready to explore the journey he's taken over the last four decades. People over the years have said would you write a book about the Brat Pack and I was always like no I mean before the sentence was done I was like no and someone again recently mentioned would you consider writing a book about the Brat Pack and I went huh yeah you know you kind of want to be free of all this stuff. I mean I'm no longer you know young and so why keep running from my youth.

Andrew McCarthy is no longer running. Choosing instead to make peace with a group he'd never aspired to join. We're here talking because I was in the Brat Pack.

I've been in a bunch of those same movies and the Brat Pack quote unquote didn't exist quote unquote we wouldn't be having this conversation. And make peace with himself. Like I did just fine with who I was and who I am I did just fine. That's a lovely place to get to in life.

Well I mean you know we get so old but to come to some kind of peace with what happens so that's why you know we talked so long ago and to have dragged it around to finally look under the rock and go you know what it's okay good just fine it's just fine yeah. This is The Takeout with Major Garrett. This week Stephen Law ally of Mitch McConnell and one of Washington's biggest mid-term moneymen. 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. Pandemic or no pandemic, nothing dims the enthusiasm some of us share for a style of dance perfected right here in America.

Faith Sehley taps into its long and storied tradition. I'm a tap dancer. Some people would say a hoofer. Some people would say foot percussionist.

Oh, I like that. Some people would say an organic mathematician. I'm a tap dancer. I'm a tap dancer. I'm a tap dancer. I'm a tap dancer. I'm a tap dancer. I'm a tap dancer. I like that.

Some people would say an organic mathematician. There are a lot of ways to describe Jason Samuel Smith, but the best way to understand what he does is to listen. You know, until talking to you, it never occurred to me that dancers can dance to music, but when you tap dance, you are the music. You are the music.

We met Samuel Smith in New York City. When you dance, what message do you want your audience to get? I want people to feel something.

I want them to feel my experience, my thoughts. We can express that range through this dance, sometimes better than words. For Samuel Smith, it goes a step further. It's about honoring tap dancing's roots and his own. Tap was kind of a language that was developed for people to establish their own freedom.

Dance historian and Florida State University professor emerita Sally Summer agrees. If you want to know about the history of America, maybe you should study the history of tap. It's a history that dates back to the 1600s when enslaved Africans were brought to America.

If everything's taken from you and all is left is your body, you're going to make art with your body. That dance continued to evolve through the 18th and 19th centuries as America became a melting pot of cultures and rhythms. The Irish and the Scots who came in early and often were endangered servants came in with also a family of step dances. The African dancer traditionally danced with bare feet on bare earth. The Irish step dancer generally danced on a wooden floor, sometimes with special shoes, sometimes not.

A homegrown kind of dance began to emerge, finding its footing in burgeoning New York City in a Lower East Side neighborhood called Five Points. It happened in the down and out places. It happened where nothing joyful was supposed to happen.

Nothing joyful was supposed to happen. That joy continued as tap shuffled into the 20th century from minstrel shows to vaudeville and then Broadway. Eventually Hollywood got happy feet too.

Lots of them. From Bill Bojangles Robinson to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to Elinor Powell. Tap was front and center. But those dance numbers didn't last forever. Suddenly during the 50s, who tap danced? Not many. The 60s, who tap danced?

Not many. And then in the 70s, these dancers started literally finding these great black tap masters who with great generosity shared. Masters like Howard Sandman Sims and James Buster Brown, who inspired greats like Gregory Hines. The stage was set for a new generation of shows and stars. Michelle Dorrance on television and online. And on stages big and small. Even during the pandemic, amateurs and professionals alike found ways to keep shuffling along any way they could. I'm always waiting for the next tap dancer to surprise me because they're out there to surprise you.

And they will. As for Jason Samuel Smith, it's all music to his ears. It's empowering. It connects you to your past, to history, to herstory.

It embodies almost every element you can imagine and it reflects America directly. To Steve Hartman now, with just the ticket for a happy Mother's Day. At her sold-out New York premiere, Rebecca Danijelis was pulled in all directions.

Everyone wanting a picture with this most unlikely star of the silver screen. It was really bizarre because I'm like, this is just my mom. We just showed up out of an Uber. Rebecca's son, Sean Pierre. She went from hotel housekeeper to household name over the last four or five years.

As we first reported back in 2017, the journey began right after she left this voicemail for her son. I just got fired. Just want you to know that. Call me back. Let go at 75. End of message. I was in shock.

I never expected it to happen to me. My biggest worry was like, if she loses her job, what else does she have? Rebecca tried finding other work, went to career centers, scoured job listings, but nothing. There ain't no reason anybody's trying to hire somebody that's 75 years old. There ain't no reason anybody's trying to hire somebody that's 75 years of age.

Which is why Sean Pierre, who works as a freelance journalist, took a different tack. She worked her hands to the bone. She deserved to feel joy. And that's what I wanted to give her. So on that note, mother and son hit the road.

He took her bucket list and together they started ticking off items. Oh my God. Milk a cow in Vermont. Done. Take a hip hop lesson. Check. Learn to use Instagram. Just press the heart. Work in progress.

Sean Pierre has chronicled the whole adventure in a new documentary called Duty Free. The film, now showing across the country, is his gift to her. And although Rebecca couldn't be more grateful, she says it was hardly necessary. She says no one needs to roll out a red carpet for their mom on Mother's Day. They just need to follow the sidewalk to her door. The most important thing you can give your moms is time.

You want to spend time with them. Oscar worthy advice. You're a real piece of work wanting my forgiveness. Mom, I don't know what you're dying of, but I hope it's slow and painful. She's not your mother. You have a super day. Allison Janney is TV's hard-working mom, winning a pair of Emmys for her role in the long-running CBS series, Mom.

Now she's considering what comes next in her jam-packed career, as we're about to hear from Tracey Smith. So you like being home. You're a homebody. I love it. If she had her way, Allison Janney would spend a lot more time here at her LA home with her dogs.

Sit in the backyard, look up at the palm trees. But our visit was a rare moment of quiet in a career that's been anything but. You might remember her as press secretary CJ Craig in TV's The West Wing. Thank you, everybody. We're both in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Mom, it's Alcoholics Anonymous, not Alcoholics Tell Your Waiter. But for the past eight years, she's been the mom in Mom, the hit comedy on CBS. And she was as surprised as anyone when she learned this season would be her last. So was it a bit of a shock? Yeah, it was a shock.

I have my own theories, but I've been told not to express them. But listen, eight years is a great long run for a show. Hi, I'm Bonnie. I'm an alcoholic. Hi, Bonnie. I've been sober for, oh man, where's my watch?

I've been sober for, oh man, where's my watch? Her character, Bonnie Plunkett, is a woman recovering from addiction. But like everything in sobriety, you don't have to face it alone. You have me.

You have all of us. And her shows become something of a beacon to others who struggle with addiction issues in real life. This show has had a deep effect on people. Yeah, you know, it's one thing to be part of a show that entertains, which in and of itself is a wonderful thing, but to also have an impact on people who are in recovery or people who have loved ones or family members who are going through it to make recovery a more approachable option. You can look at it this way. Your cash and prizes are being in a healthy marriage and repairing your relationship with your daughter.

I'd rather have actual cash and prizes. The final episode of Mom will air later this week, and that makes her kind of uneasy. I hate change. It makes me, I get afraid.

I always have to let something go and not knowing what's next. I think the biggest thing I need to learn how to say is no. You're not good at saying no. I'm not.

I'm terrible at saying no. You're a taker. Every cent I made went to your skating and you took it.

What do you want? But, look what can happen when Allison Janney says yes. I made you a champion.

Knowing you'd hate me for it. That's the sacrifice a mother makes. I wish I had a mother like me instead of nice.

Nice get your shit. In 2017's I, Tanya, she was so convincing as Tanya Harding's mother, Lavonna, it looked like the role had been written for her, which in fact, it was by her good friend screenwriter, Steven Rogers. But at the time, Allison was overbooked. And I was telling Steven, honey, you may have to make this movie without me because I don't think it's going to work. Allison Janney. In the end, she made it work and it paid off big with an Oscar for best supporting actress. I did it all by myself. I love that I have an Oscar and I never thought it was going to be possible for me.

Truly, at a certain point, I just sort of gave up on that dream. So where do you keep these things? Well, the Oscars moved around, depending on who's coming over. Well, I should have put it just, you know, back there. Just subtly.

Yes. Why didn't I think of that? Wherever her statue is, it's dedicated to her brother, Hal. And this is for Hal. You're always in my heart.

Thank you very much. Hal Janney lost his own battle with addiction 10 years ago, but his big sister says she still calls him now and again. My favorite time to talk to him was when I was in the car driving someplace. So I always think of him when I'm in the car and I still have his phone number and I dial it. You dial his phone number? Can you hear his voice? No, it's not there. I just dial it.

What does that do? I just miss his sense of humor, really. Are you okay? Is she having a stroke? Do you smell toast? Wait, I smell toast. Am I having a stroke? No, we're in a diner.

Carry on. Like most other shows, Mom shut down last year when the pandemic closed the studio, but the time off turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Seems Allison's own mom in Dayton, Ohio needed her. So you moved home for a while during the beginning of the pandemic. My mother had gotten a diagnosis of cancer and so I flew back to see her and I'm forever grateful for that, even though it was incredibly difficult and heartbreaking and, you know, really hard and ultimate.

She lost her battle and she died in October of 2020. So I wasn't there with her at the very end, which breaks my heart, but so glad I was there. As sad as last year was, it actually gave Jani a chance to finally do something she'd long wanted to do, cut her hair. And I said, let's do it.

Let's cut it. And to be able to run my hands through my hair and have it just be my hair, it's just, it feels so great. It was pretty funny though, when I came to show up for our first mom episode in October, when we started in 2020, and the producers were like, what have you done? Bonnie can't, how are we going to explain this? I'm like, you guys, I've been wearing a wig since season one. They didn't even know. None of them knew that I'd been wearing a wig. So, you know, now all of America knows that I was wearing a wig. See how my dogs pay attention to me? The new do is proof Allison Jani is always up for something different.

She'll actually make her debut as an action hero sometime soon, but not today. I got to protect myself a little because I'm tired. It's been a long, long run of back to back things.

And I do need to take some time for my, for myself. What does that mean? I don't know. I don't know. What does it mean?

I think it means like going off on a, one of those meditation journeys or someplace where you go where you're not allowed to talk for a week. Does that appeal to you? Yes. I have no idea, but I'd like to be open to whatever else might be out there for me. Maybe, I'm not going to say. Oh, come on. Where were you going with that? It's like maybe marriage and kids at 61. What the hell? It's not too late for marriage and kids. Somebody else's kids, you know.

You could totally do that. So after that, then maybe a meditation retreat. We'll see.

We'll see. What better day than Mother's Day to drop in on filmmaker Josh Seftel in Brooklyn, catching up with his mom in Florida. Hello. Hi. Hi. How long has it been since you got the second vaccination shot?

Like a month. Wow. How does that feel? Oh, I feel so relaxed. You feel a little safer. Feels like maybe you really are going to have a normal life someday.

How has it changed your life so far? I'm very happy to announce that my Marjan game started again. Hi, my Marjan group. Did you feel rusty?

You won't believe this. I won three Marjans. So you made a dollar 50.

I did. Is that the most you've ever won? Oh no, I've won a lot.

Really? One time I won six dollars. How do you feel about spring finally being here?

Like a big heavy blanket came off of you and all of a sudden there was light and color and warmth. Oh, I went shopping for clothes. I did buy a few things. But there's still not many places to wear them. You're right.

But I go and I look at them in the closet. Really? Yeah. They say that spring is the season when love blossoms. Are you interested in finding new love this spring? Are you talking about romantic love?

Wouldn't that be nice? I don't know anybody. I don't know a soul. Right. Maybe I'm too old.

Although I don't think you're ever too old. Have you heard that term pandemic puppies? There's a puppy shortage, believe it or not, during this pandemic. People are getting lots of pets.

Yeah, I wish that I could. But we have alligators. You would be worried about getting eaten by an alligator if you walked the dog?

Oh, not alligator. There are more than one. They're behind me. They're in the woods. And there's one there that's about six feet long. Do you think you could run faster than an alligator?

Listen, when he would take a look at me, there'd be no hesitation that he was going to have a feast of a lifetime. Do you know that there's a study that just came out that says older people were able to cope with the pandemic and remain happier than younger people? What's been your mental state through this pandemic? Pretty good. I think I'm stronger than I think I am.

Zooming helped a lot. Talking to my family, talking to my friends. What will it mean for you to get back to a normal life?

The main thing I would like to do is travel to see you and the new baby. It's something I think about all the time. I think it's going to be like wonderful.

There's no words to express it. Oh, it's going to be so nice. So I want to tell you something. For one of your Mother's Day gifts, we're coming to see you with the kids once we're all vaccinated. You are?

Yeah. Oh, I'm so happy. I'm overjoyed. I can't wait. We see thoughts from our friend David Sedaris in your future.

In fact, here he is. I was with some house guests not long ago sitting around the table when one of them mentioned a crystal ball she'd been thinking about buying. Just to have, she said. Then I talked to a bunch of people and learned that it would suck all the energy out of whichever room it was in. Which makes sense, I guess. No, it doesn't, I said. Everyone looked at me.

Not just the woman who'd been talking, but our other two friends as well. Crystal balls aren't real, I said. I mean, they don't actually do anything. But they're crystal, one of the two men said. So of course they have special powers. None of the three were what I'd call new-agey, so their reverence for crystal surprised me. Just as it had surprised me a year earlier to hear them talking about ghosts and of how they can come into your house by way of antiques or secondhand clothing like from the Goodwill or whatever, even if the coat or sweater in question has been drawn to the question has been dry cleaned. They were all on board for horoscopes as well and spent small fortunes having their charts done.

Psychics were revered, as were iridologists who supposedly look deep into your eyes and can see your internal organs. The medical stuff is especially troubling to me. A friend, for instance, who is treating her cancer with mistletoe enemas, I said, excuse me, what? The only problem is that it's not covered by my insurance, she said.

Is that honestly the only problem with it, I thought. How can this be anything but the mistletoe industry sitting around the day after Christmas and thinking, huh, what else can we use this for? All these people are professionals. They make decent livings and pay taxes and though they don't often come out and say it, I can sense them judging me for being so small-minded, for not at least allowing the possibility that a crystal ball on a shelf in the living room might wear me out or at least make it a bit harder to concentrate. I try to see myself opening up, expanding my mind the way they want me to, but then it all goes foggy. We leave you this Mother's Day morning with a look at sandhill cranes and their chicks in Titusville, Florida. Thank you for listening.

Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. 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.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 03:13:17 / 2023-01-29 03:33:04 / 20

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