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Spread Of Delta Variant Causing Outbreaks Across U.S., Especially In Low Vaccinated Areas; President Biden Honors Sandra Lindsay Who Was First To Receive COVID-19 Vaccine In U.S. Outside Clinical Trial; Taliban Taking Territory Rapidly In Afghanistan As U.S. Military Completes Withdraw; Billionaire Richard Branson To Attempt Flight Into Space; Confederate Statues Of Robert E. Lee And General Stonewall Jackson Taken Down In Charlottesville, Virginia; President Of Haiti Assassinated. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 10, 2021 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: CNN's Polo Sandoval is live for us now out of Little Rock, Arkansas, one of the states seeing a surge. So Polo, what are you hearing and seeing there, and are people showing up to get their vaccines at the location where you are?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not enough, Fred. And that's what we're hearing from officials. They want to get the word out so a majority of residents here in Arkansas will actually head out to their locations, including this pop-up one that's being set up at the church, and get that shot. They want these chairs to be full, because as we heard from an official earlier with the University of Arkansas for medical sciences, right now, the hospitals are full.

A third COVID surge is just beginning to gain momentum, and that is really underscoring the importance of getting people vaccinated. Right now, only about 40 percent of residents of Arkansas have been vaccinated. It's a number that, sadly, has stalled. And so as that stalls, COVID numbers, hospitalizations, new cases, that continues to rise, especially with the highly contagious Delta variant.

Now, what I've heard from authorities here in Arkansas is one of the big things is trying to break through the vaccine skepticism, those people who feel like they still do not want to get that shot. When you hear from Dr. Robert Hopkins, who is actually here right now administering some of these vaccines, not only is he a local official here, but he's also chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, and he does hope that a full approval of the Johnson & Johnson, the Moderna, and the Pfizer vaccine will hopefully increase confidence, but that may not happen for a while.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROBERT HOPKINS, CHAIR, NATIONAL VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE, HHS: -- get that full approval fairly soon. I know that there's been regular communication with the Pfizer, the Moderna, and the Johnson & Johnson folks and the FDA. I think that that would help at least with a part of our population that's been hesitant to know that this vaccine has full approval.

And I certainly don't want any of us to talk to FDA about doing anything other than their ordinary process. The ordinary process of safety evaluation and effectiveness evaluation is critical. But we need that as soon as we can get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: Fred, one of the big challenges for authorities here in Arkansas, which is one of the states that's seeing some of the highest COVID numbers right now, is actually breaking through to the communities of color. We're talking about Hispanic communities, African American communities. In fact, this particular event here is specifically geared towards, obviously, it's open, but specifically working with the Mexican consulate to bring in some of the Hispanic members of the community to get their shots as well.

But at the same time, the other number that they're sharing with the community as a whole is about 95 percent. According to health officials here, they tell me that so far, a majority of those COVID cases, those active COVID cases, about 95 percent of them are people who are not fully vaccinated. So that number itself should be enough to convince people to get out because they want to get those numbers higher. Again, only 40 percent. And when it comes to, for example, the Latino community, authorities here believe that only 15 percent is vaccinated. So that's a number they will certainly want to get up.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

Critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay was on the front lines of the pandemic. She was the first in line to get the vaccine. You remember seeing her. And now she is bringing Americans back together. After more than a year of social distancing, Lindsay served as the grand marshal of New York City's Hometown Heroes Parade on Wednesday. Hundreds gathered in lower Manhattan to honor health care and essential workers.

So here was that moment back in December. Lindsay made history when she became the first person in the U.S. to receive the vaccine outside of clinical trials. Sandra Lindsay, she was applauding there. We still applaud you. She's joining me right now. Thank you so much, Sandra. So good to see you.

SANDRA LINDSAY, FIRST U.S. COVID-19 VACCINE RECIPIENT: Fredricka, thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

WHITFIELD: So yes, we have come a long way, but then you just saw a reporter in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was at a vaccination site. It was near empty, not because the majority of people where he is have been vaccinated, but because there's still a lot of people who are either refusing or are hesitant to get vaccinated. So what does that make you feel like given that you were the first one to say, here, I'm an example, this is all right. But then there are a lot of people who still won't do it?

LINDSAY: So yes, Fred. I took the vaccine back in 2020 of December, and my message there then was, I wanted to instill public confidence, particularly in communities of color, because I know that that is where a lot of the hesitancy lies.

The reporting earlier, it just tells me that we have more work to do, and that is why my health system, Northwell Health, we partner with community leaders, faith-based leaders in these communities of color who they'll trust, these communities. We have gained some success.

[14:05:00]

I also volunteer and partner with the Ad Council and Reed (ph) Chemistry who are organizations who are putting the facts out there and addressing concerns and questions. So we still have more work to do to get people to get vaccinated and protect themselves.

WHITFIELD: So Sandra, I wonder, if eight months ago your message was, look, look at me, I'm getting the shot, it was near painless, I'm OK, what's your message today eight months after that shot to send to people, to encourage them still to get vaccinated?

LINDSAY: My message to them is that we're still not out of the woods, but we are better protected if we are vaccinated. Look at me. I'm still here. I'm still going, and I still continue to spread the message that COVID is real and the vaccine is our best defense against getting this deadly virus and getting severely ill and dying.

WHITFIELD: How far do you take your messaging now? And yes, you're the grand marshal, and we saw you getting that shot, the first to do so in December. Do you literally just walk up to people and try to inform them? And what do you hear from people who express why they remain hesitant? What are the words that you impart to them? What do you tell them? How do you convince people if by now folks who are eligible to get the vaccine and haven't done so, what do you say to them to convince them otherwise?

LINDSAY: Well, thankfully, I've had some big platforms to be able to share my message, such as I've been on a lot of programs on CNN, panelists on some big stages that reach, a whole group of people. But also, in my organization, I have done a lot of town halls that spoke to people one on one, because I do know people where I work at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and just talking to people about have you been vaccinated yet.

And one of my colleagues recently just shared with me that Sandra, I really want to get the vaccine, But I am so afraid of needles. And I offered to go hold her hand. It didn't align that day. But there are so many different reasons why people are afraid of getting vaccinated.

Some are the big stuff like the hesitance or the mistrust, but some are also other factors, such as, I'm afraid of needles, I'm afraid that I'm going to get sick the day after, I don't have any sick time, what if I have to call in, I don't have anybody to watch my kids if I get vaccinated. And that's we at Northwell, we are getting into the communities, we're breaking down the barrier so that we can get our communities of color vaccinated. WHITFIELD: Sandra, President Biden awarded you the Outstanding

American by Choice Award earlier this month. Listen to what he had to say about you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: During the height of the pandemic, she poured her heart and soul into the work to help patients fight for their lives and to keep her fellow nurses safe.

Sandra, if there are any angels in heaven, as I told you, having spent a lot of time in the ICU, they're all nurses, male and female. Doctors let you live. Nurses make you want to live.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Sandra, I mean, you lived it. You were there in that moment. And you also donated your vaccination card, scrubs, hospital badge, to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Why is it important for you to have done that?

LINDSAY: Well, I'm going to just reference the great Robert, Mr. Marley, when he said in our bright future, we can't forget the past. History is very important. This is a significant time in our history that having those objects in the prestigious Smithsonian will be there for future generations to learn about what happened, all the sacrifices that were made, all the great people who went above and beyond, heroic efforts to get us through this time. So it's very, very important to preserve our history.

WHITFIELD: Sandra Lindsay, thank you so much for being with us today, and thank you for leading by example and showing us the way to a healthier, stronger existence.

LINDSAY: Thank you, Fred, and thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic, thank you.

[14:10:00]

All right, coming up, you know the face and the name, Cindy Williams. She played the beloved Shirley on "Laverne & Shirley," and she's reflecting on her years on this iconic show. I'm sure it was among your favorites, too.

Plus, it's the final countdown. Billionaire Richard Branson blasts off to space tomorrow. A preview of the risky journey that he'll be taking coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: In the wake of the U.S. decision to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, the Taliban is making several gains in the country, taking over key border crossings. The moves are raising concerns that the Taliban could take over the country. CNN's Anna Coren is in Afghanistan and has the very latest. (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Taliban continues to make sweeping gains across Afghanistan, seizing one of the country's main trading gateways with Iran. The militants took control of the dry port of Islam Qala in the western province of Herat where millions of dollars worth of fuel and supplies cross.

[14:15:04]

The Taliban also claimed another border crossing, bordering Turkmenistan. The government says security forces are attempting to recapture these key areas. It comes after President Biden vigorously defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces and end America's 20- year war in Afghanistan. He said the decision was overdue, that America did not come here to nation build, and that it was up to the Afghan government and its security forces to defend his people.

In the meantime, a delegation from the Taliban meeting with the Russian government in Moscow gave a press conference, stating that it had claimed 85 percent of Afghan territory, a figure denied by the government. It also said that humanitarian groups should keep operating, that schools and hospitals must stay open, and that the border crossings and customs officers which have been seized will remain operational.

But attempts to portray the extreme Islamist group as an alternate governing body is not convincing anyone. The fighting continues to rage on the battlefield with tens of thousands of people being displaced. All those who can plan for an exit strategy out of this country.

Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much, Anna.

CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier joining me right now. Kim, so good to see you.

So President Biden is defending his decision to pull U.S. troops, saying the move was long overdue. And despite the rapid gains made by the Taliban, the president says it's not inevitable that they will take over the country. But how do you see it? Has the Taliban already demonstrated that it has the advantage?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, they do seem to be taking a lot of territory very quickly, which one Taliban official had told me was because Afghan troops were simply giving up in the face of the Taliban onslaught. It's as if psychologically, without the U.S. and NATO support there, they feel they don't have confidence in their own government's ability to keep fighting. And so they're deserting their posts.

Separate from that, though, the Taliban may well be overstretched, but the Taliban has, over time in the past 20 years, they've learned from their mistakes, and U.S. officials tell me that they have been doing things like infiltrating government and military centers so that it is much easier for them ultimately to take over from the inside the more power they gain.

WHITFIELD: How is it expected that the Taliban and the Afghan government would be working together?

DOZIER: U.S. officials who were part of the peace talks had long argued that, look, we are enabling the Afghan government and the Taliban to sit down and make something happen. But other U.S. officials I've spoke to have said the Taliban has never actually given up power when it was about to get the whole country, or thought it was. So they are very skeptical about that.

But speaking of skepticism, President Biden has been reading the intelligence that a lot of Americans haven't absorbed about Afghanistan, and thinks that we sent a lot of money, a lot of funds their way, and spent a lot of American lives, and it's squandered.

WHITFIELD: And then CNN learned that the White House has yet to finalize its policy for pursuing terrorists in Afghanistan once troops are out of the country. So no set policy on things like drone strikes, surveillance. How much work yet needs to be done?

DOZIER: Well, one of the key issues that they run into is that they announce their policy before they've made arrangements to have military bases in places like Pakistan somewhere nearby. It's left them with a situation where they'll have to fly from the Gulf, sometimes over unfriendly territory, and several hours before they can get over their targets. That means that's going to tie up a lot of U.S. naval and air capability that the U.S. military had hoped to pivot to use in the influence fight against China in the seas around China.

WHITFIELD: And then what about the U.S. commitment under the Biden administration to help those, what was it, something like 18,000 Afghans who assisted Americans in Afghanistan, whether it be translators, helping with driving, all kinds of jobs and commitments that were made. How are they going to receive assistance, help, visas, et cetera?

DOZIER: Well, President Biden says that most of them who wanted that assistance have already gotten it and are in the process of getting out.

[14:20:00]

Though I'm hearing from others, people who worked for perhaps the CIA, they don't have papers to prove who they worked for. And in this complicated visa process, their contacts probably hadn't given them real names or numbers. They don't know who to turn to. But everyone in their town, city, or village knows who they work for, and they've got a target on their heads.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kim Dozier, thank you so much. Appreciate it, good to see you.

Coming up, the billionaire space race is on, and the first flight blasts off tomorrow. A look at the path Richard Branson will take up to space next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:25:08]

WHITFIELD: All right, now to Charlottesville, Virginia, where four years after white supremacists used the protection of Confederate statues as an excuse to rally there, this powerful moment brought cheers to the city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: A pair of Confederate statues, that of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, taken down, put onto the back of trucks and driven away. The Charlottesville City Council had voted last month to remove the statues following a court battle that lasted more than three years. The mayor there spoke just before the statues came down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR NIKUYAH WALKER, (I) CHARLOTTESVILLE: This statue is finally being surrendered. It's just one small step. The real work has always been and will continue to be the willingness to accurately teach history, eliminate wealth gaps by investing at the same pace that white people invested in themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And in an emergency meeting, the Charlottesville City Council has voted to remove another statue, this one depicting Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacagawea. That removal will take place this afternoon.

Richard Branson is scheduled to launch into space as early as tomorrow. He's going up in a space plane made by his own company, Virgin Galactic. A successful launch would be a huge first step toward commercial space tourism. Rachel Crane is CNN's innovation and space correspondence, and she's joining us now from New Mexico. Oh my gosh, the drumbeats are getting louder, highly anticipated. There has to be a lot of excitement in the air there.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Fred, that is completely right. You hit the head on the nail. We're here behind the gates at Spaceport, America, and it is a bevy of activity. I want to point out that that's the runway right over there. It's 12,000 feet long, and that's the runway that Richard Branson and his rocket powered space plane VSS Unity will be taking flight tomorrow morning. But as I said, here behind the gates at Spaceport, America, it's really a bevy of activity. You have tents being erected, trucks coming in, people milling about, all in anticipation of tomorrow's flight. Take a listen, Fred.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRANE: The countdown is on. And in just hours, entrepreneur Richard Branson hopes to become the first person to ride a self-funded rocket into suborbital space.

RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GROUP: Astronaut 001 Richard Branson.

CRANE: A launch nearly two decades in the making.

Tell me, how do you feel?

BRANSON: Well, I managed to avoid getting excited for 17 years since we started building spaceships and motherships and spaceports, and all these things. And I finally got the call from our chief engineer saying that every single box have been ticked on the safety aspect, and that I was, would I like to go to space? And I hit the roof, I was so excited.

CRANE: The Virgin Galactic rocket-powered space plane is set to take off tomorrow from New Mexico. The mothership will release the spaceship at around 40,000 feet. The rocket will ignite and take Branson, two pilots, and three others on a 2,400-mile-per-hour ride more than 50 miles up to touch the inner edge of space, as defined by the U.S. military and NASA. The crew will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before gliding back to earth.

BRANSON: When you're up there, the spaceship will turn over under these enormous windows and it's going to be able to float around.

CRANE: If successful, the space baron will edge out fellow billionaire and world's richest man Jeff Bezos, who is set to ride his own company's rocket into space in the coming days. The two men have jockeyed for the astronomical bragging rights that come with being first. Branson has insisted that there's no space race with Bezos, and that the missions are different.

BRANSON: The kind of experience you're going to get with the two companies are almost as different as chalk and cheese. So we don't see ourselves as a direct competitor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two, one.

CRANE: While Bezos' flight will be after Branson's, his rocket system New Shepherd will go even higher, past the Karman line, which is the altitude internationally recognized to be the demarcation of space. His company Blue Origin taking a shot at Branson's trip, tweeting their rocket was, quote, "designed to fly above the Karman line, so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name."

[14:29:56] LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: If you fly 50 miles or 62 miles, you're in space. You're not going to notice the difference between those 12 miles. Neither of these vehicles go into orbit, by the way. They touch space and then they come right back down.

CRANE: Both space companies have had successful suborbital test flights over the past decade. But with space travel comes inherent risk. In 2014, a co-pilot for Virgin Galactic was killed during a test flight of a previous model of their spacecraft.

MIKE MOSES, PRESIDENT, SPACE MISSIONS AND SAFETY, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I like to say you can do risky things safely if you know the risk you're taking, you know the controls you have in place, and you verify that they are active, and we do just that. I don't think the risk of this flight is high. It's not zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one, zero, and liftoff.

CRANE: In the 10 years since the launch of Atlantis, NASA's final space shuttle mission, the privatization of space flight has quickly expanded. Today, the commercial aerospace company SpaceX, founded by yet another billionaire, Elon Musk, regularly takes NASA astronauts and supplies into orbit at a fraction of the cost of the space shuttle. So far, NASA has been supportive of the billionaire's endeavors, especially after the successes of SpaceX.

BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: We are seeing the result of these billionaires, that you call them, putting their wealth into the research and development of the space program. We're seeing a lot of advancing of technology, which is good for our country. It's good for building American jobs as well.

CRANE: If tomorrow's mission is successful, it could launch yet a new era of space travel, and the final frontier could soon open to space tourism. So far, hundreds of people have signed up for future Virgin Galactic flights, some paying more than $200,000 each. Branson hopes that someday will be soon.

BRANSON: I've had to wait almost a lifetime to be able to go into space. Hopefully, we can speed that process up for many, many others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a billion-dollar view.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CRANE: And Fred, I don't know about you, but I certainly would love to be one of the lucky few to travel into space one day as they open up that final frontier to the rest of us.

Now, I want to point out that today we're just a few hours away from this liftoff, and it's the final rehearsals here at Spaceport, America, for this takeoff. And things will really heat up at midnight tonight. That's when they'll bring the spacecraft to the end of the runway. They'll fuel it up, getting ready for takeoff. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Oh, how exciting. He is the ultimate thrill seeker, and obviously you are too since you said you'd be ready to get on board and take that flight too. So Rachel, I just have to know, where are you going to be perched where the big event happens tomorrow?

CRANE: So we will be right where the rest of the media -- there's a media center that's right off of the runway. So we will have a front row seat to the takeoff here. We'll also be able to see where it lands, because it lands on the same runway that it takes off. And we're also right next to the stage. There is going to be a few special announcements following the landing. Richard Branson has been teasing that. So we're all hotly anticipating what he has to say.

Also, there's going to be a musical performance by Khalid, and there will be a webcast hosted by Stephen Colbert. So there's a lot of things happening here on the ground at Spaceport, America, that we will have a front row seat for, Fred.

WHITFIELD: This is a serious production. We can't wait. We'll be watching as well. We'll also be watching through your eyes, too. Rachel Crane, thank you so much in New Mexico.

All right, another brand-new CNN original series is coming, "History of the Sitcom." It's bringing you all the stories behind your favorite sitcoms. Here's a sneak peek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You come home, turn on that television. What do you want? You want comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there you go, situation comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bazinga.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laughter opens you up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: you talking about, Willis?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We get to know these sitcom characters. They're your friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all share these experiences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laughter is a great way to deal with a very tricky world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Discussing race in a sitcom, you're able to kind of take in new ideas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, hi, neighbor.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hope that you'll have those kinds of relationships in your life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was revolutionary. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laugh out loud funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the great accomplishments of the modern age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stories behind the moments we shared. "History of the Sitcom" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm out.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:39:13]

WHITFIELD: All right, this just in. A senior administration official tells CNN there are no plans for the U.S. to send military assistance to Haiti following the assassination of the country's president. Haiti has requested troops from both the U.S. and the U.N. amid rising tensions. Police say there were 28 assassins, 26 of them Columbian nationals and two Haitian Americans. Of those, 20 suspects are in custody. Five more suspects are believed to be still on the run, and three were killed.

CNN's Matt Rivers takes us inside a building where police and suspects faced off in a gun battle.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a building where one of the shootouts took place between some of the suspects in this assassination and Haitian security forces.

[14:40:00]

And just by looking around it, the damage here, you can tell just how ferocious this battle was. Look up here in the ceiling. It's a concrete ceiling, and there are multiple bullet holes, there are dozens just like that all across this building. And if you come over here, look at this detail. These are the bullet holes left behind after multiple rounds pierced this metal window frame. And if you step back, you can see this was an entire wall of windows and frames that is now basically just gone.

And this kind of damage just extends throughout this entire building. Walking into this room, you could see lots more bullet holes in the concrete ceiling. And in here, more damage. Windows just entirely blown out, more bullet holes.

And here's the thing. There are still suspects on the loose after this assassination. So it makes you think, could there be more confrontation like this one in store over the coming days and weeks?

(END VIDEO TAPE)

WHITFIELD: Matt Rivers joining us there from Port-au-Prince. Thank you so much for that.

Still ahead, I have a conversation one-on-one with the beloved Shirley of "Laverne & Shirley." Her stories and memories filming that iconic show next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:45:33]

WHITFIELD: The characters you can't stop laughing at in the situations you can't get enough of. Since the beginning of television, sitcoms have kept generations of Americans smiling, and helped so many of us navigate an ever-changing cultural landscape. Now the new CNN original series "The History of the Sitcom" brings us a behind the scenes look at your favorite sitcoms from across the decades. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK GOMEZ, EDITOR IN CHIEF, A.V. CLUB: After ABC declined to move forward with the "All in the Family" pilot, Norman Lear made the decision to move the show over to CBS.

SALLY STRUTHERS, ACTRESS: They said, yes, but you need a new set of kids. So Rob Reiner and I were the third set of children for Archie and Edith Bunker.

NORMAN LEAR, ICONIC SITCOM CREATOR: So I made the pilot for the third time, same script that wouldn't change a word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So let's hear it again, huh? What did you mean by what God?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just don't see any evidence of God, that's all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right, daddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That right. I knew we had a couple of pinkos in this, but I didn't know we had atheists.

JOHN LITHGOW, ACTOR: I remember the opening episode and realizing, my God, the ground is shaking under me.

STRUTHERS: And we reach over each other at the table, and we have arguments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because guys like you aren't willing to give the black man, the Mexican American, and all the other minorities their just and rightful, hard earned share of the American dream.

STRUTHERS: That didn't happen before. We got real.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: This premiere episode is titled "American Family" and explores how sitcoms portrayed the changing face of families in America.

Joining us right now is actress Cindy -- gonna do it my way, yes, my way -- Williams. She played Shirley on the --

CINDY WILLIAMS, PLAYED SHIRLEY ON "LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY": Very good. Very good.

WHITFIELD: That's fantastic, thank you. One of my favorites, can you tell, sitcoms "Laverne & Shirley." Cindy, so good to see you.

WILLIAMS: Good to see you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: You and your co-star Penny Marshall played their own sort of family, best friends. What is it about this show that made it such a hit?

WILLIAMS: Well, first of all, it was set in a time of innocence in America, before in the late 50s, before President Kennedy was assassinated, before all the -- just all the craziness began. And it was about two working girls who, they were minimum wage earners that were trying to make their lives work. And everyone could relate to it. And then put into funny situations. We'd get ourselves into funny situations, and you add that on top of just being regular people, and the fun ensued.

WHITFIELD: And that's what made it so fun and identifiable for everybody, too, I think, and why it was so catchy, because people could see that you all were self-deprecating, you laughed at yourselves. But then you really did make a way. And of course, as I just kind of belted out a couple of tunes, you had a very catchy theme song, here it is. The real thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, schlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated.

We're gonna do it. Give us any chance, we'll take it. Read us any rule, we'll break it. We're gonna make our dreams come true doin' it our way.

Nothin's gonna turn us back now. Straight ahead and on the track now. We're gonna make our dreams come true, doin' it our way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So that theme song really did kind of set the tone, but where did that "schlemiel, schlimazel" come from?

WILLIAMS: It comes from Penny's childhood. When we were shotting the opening credits for the show, Garry Marshall was directing them. And just for one of the shots, he yelled at Penny, he said, teach Cindy that little diddy that you used to sing with your girlfriends to mark the steps to school. And so Penny took me aside and she said, we're going to link arms and we're going to walk eight steps.

[14:50:00]

And then we're going to kick out a right foot, and kick out our left foot. And you're going to go up, I'm going to go down, and then we're going to run. And we're going to say, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, shlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated," and then we're going to run.

So I didn't ask. I just did what they told me to do. And that was it. We shot it twice, and that was it. And then Garry, I asked him, what's schlemiel, schlimazel? It took me a while to pronounce it. He said a schlemiel is a guy who jumps out a window for no particular reason, and the schlimazel is the guy he lands on. So it's like "Dumb and Dumber."

WHITFIELD: That's funny.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. So I guess what people forget is "Laverne & Shirley" is actually a spinoff from "Happy Days." Who could forget the poodle skirts? I love that. I never came close to finding a poodle skirt, but I did find a poodle bag. So how did all that come to me. How did you embrace that?

WILLIAMS: A poodle bag? I wish I had had one of those.

WHITFIELD: I'll show you one day.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: OK.

WHITFIELD: So how did this segue happen? How welcome and open to it were you?

WILLIAMS: The segue from "Happy Days" to "Laverne & Shirley"? Well, Penny and I did one episode of "Happy Days." They had written these two -- before we were a spinoff. So we did this episode and played these two characters as Garry Marshall described them, girls who date the fleet. And Penny and I thought, wow, tramps, this is going to be fun.

So we went over and we did the show. And then ABC saw the episode, and it was an episode where Laverne & Shirley are friends of Fonzie's, and he sets them up on a double date with Richie and himself. And so we did the show, and then ABC saw the episode, and they liked it. And they wanted to spin the characters of Laverne & Shirley off into their own series. And Penny and I, it just was like a tsunami. And all of a sudden, we were doing our own show, which we just had no idea. We didn't even know what a spinoff was at that point.

And it was in family hour. We didn't know what family hour meant, because when we first played the characters, we were chain smoking and chewing gum. When we first rehearsed it, that's how Penny and I saw these two characters in our heads. And of course, we had to lose all that. Then it just settled down into being like, brewery workers who always had the wolf nipping at their heels. And that was the fun of it.

WHITFIELD: You ran away with it, and you all did it your way, and it was a lot of fun along the way. Cindy Williams, what a pleasure to talk to you. And thank you and your late cohort, Penny Marshall, for bringing us some great fun times.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Fredricka, thank you so much. It's been my pleasure.

WHITFIELD: Wonderful. Be sure, everybody, to tune in to the all new CNN original series, "The History of the Sitcom" premieres with back to back episodes tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific, only on CNN. All right, Cindy Williams, so fun today and of yesteryear as well. Love the shows.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN NEWSROOM continues in just a moment with Jim Acosta. But first, nearly 10 percent of Parkinson's patients get it before they are 50 years old. In today's "Human Factor," we introduce you to one man who is fighting back.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JIMMY CHOI, PARKINSON'S ADVOCATE: When I was first diagnosed with Parkinson's, I was only 27 years old. I was in shock. I figured if I just ignored it, it would go away.

My name is Jimmy Choi, and I am a five-time competitor on "American Ninja Warrior."

I had just gotten married. We had all kinds of dreams. Over the next eight years all of my symptoms started to progress. The tremors got worse. The rigidity got worse. I was constantly losing my balance. Then one day when I was walking down the stairs with my son the two of us fell. I knew I had to make a change.

And I finally got myself into a clinical trial involving exercise, and I noticed that I felt better. So I started adding more activity in my life. I would try to get outside and just walk, and just keep adding every day, trying to do a little bit more. That walk became a jog. The jogging became running. So by April of 2012, I ran the Chicago Marathon.

Even though I was getting stronger, Parkinson's never goes away. I'm simply preparing my body so it's better at handling these symptoms. When my body is cramping, I have a better chance of pulling myself out of that cramp.

[14:55:00]

With "American Ninja Warrior," it was my daughter who got me into it, and this year I completed my fifth season. Today I'm an advocate for Parkinson's research. My goal is to help encourage others to be more active, to make themselves stronger. You don't have to be on "American Ninja Warrior," you don't have to run the marathons. Just find something that you enjoy doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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