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Trump Rails Against "Rigged Election" in CPAC Speech; 30 Million Americans Under Excessive Heat Alerts; Interview with Representative John Curtis (R-UT) about Climate Change; CNN Gets a Close-Up Look at Some Iconic Sitcom Locations. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 11, 2021 - 18:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are live in the CNN Newsroom on this Sunday.

Well, one small step for a daredevil billionaire and a giant leap for space travel, Sir Richard Branson becoming the first billionaire to reach the cosmos on a spacecraft made by his own company. Look at this, Virgin Galactic's Unity spacecraft detaching from its mother ship and roaring to the edge of space.

Here's CNN's Rachel Crane reporting on that breathtaking moment.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You can hear the crowd cheering behind me. This is that historic moment that Richard Branson and his team at Virgin Galactic have been waiting for, for nearly two decades and we have release, Brian. We have release. The rocket engine has ignited. This is the moment that Branson and his team have been waiting for. Brian, I've got to pause. I've got to take this in. This is really an incredible moment here.


BROWN: Incredible indeed. Branson and his crew touched down at around noon today, roughly one hour after takeoff. Rachel Crane has more on this historic mission.

CRANE: Pam, this flight was nearly two decades in the making. And the company is saying that Richard Branson's maiden flight was flawless. And nobody more excited about that than the company's founder and new astronaut Richard Branson himself.

I had the opportunity to speak with him following the flight about the excitement and the energy of it. Take a listen to what he had to say.


RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I've dreamt of going to space since I was a kid. I've always pictured what it would be like. And it was just far more extraordinary than I could ever, ever imagined, from the -- from going 0 to 3,000 miles an hour in seven or eight seconds, being pressed back into the seat, the roar of the rocket to arriving in space and the silence. And, you know, to looking out of the window, seeing our glorious, glorious -- the colors of the sky, to unbuckling and floating just literally lifting just going off to the ceiling and floating, looking back down in these big windows that now the spaceship is upside down, facing back down to the earth. Seeing these three float around underneath me like, you know, giant fish. Get out of my way. I want to see the earth. And then, of course, when we came back into the Earth's atmosphere, the shuttering as the spaceship comes back in. Anyway, we just had a pretty extraordinary day.


CRANE: But luckily for him, this was not a dream. This was reality. And space enthusiasts all around the globe are celebrating. That's because Virgin Galactic and Branson hoped that this fourth manned space flight will help usher in a new era of space travel. The company is saying that they expect to start their commercial operations in early 2022. That's when people, like yourself and I, could potentially one day hop a flight on their vehicle. But Pam, it's going to cost us. Right now, those tickets selling for around $200,000 a pop, a cost that Virgin Galactic has said might go up before it comes down. Pam?

BROWN: Yes, hopefully becomes more affordable. All right, Rachel Crane, thanks so much.

And I want to bring in somebody who has spent more time in space than anyone in NASA's history, and the first woman to command the International Space Station, Peggy Whitson.


Peggy, so wonderful to have you on the show. How significant is this moment? I mean, is it bigger than just a rich man built a rocket and flies to space?

PEGGY WHITSON, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Oh, absolutely. I have said that commercialization of space is very much like when we transitioned from barnstorming in airplanes to commercial airline flight. And, hopefully, it will -- those prices will come down. And I think Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin's suborbital flights are a good way for many people to get a taste of what space flight is going to be like.

And, of course, you know, SpaceX is planning an orbital flight later this year with the Inspiration Crew. And next year, Axiom, the company that I'm working for, is planning two flights for private astronauts to go and actually conduct research on board the International Space Station for a ten-day stay.

BROWN: So, it's moving right along. Obviously, today is historic. You know, it took multiple decades for you to become an astronaut. Is it strange to think that one day, any person who is willing to write a big enough check will also be able to travel to space, and why is that so important? WHITSON: Well, right now, yes, it costs a lot of money to do that. But it's important to get this mission, this excitement of space off the ground, literally, in some ways, because we are going to improve the technologies and drive the cost down further and further. And that's when access will become much more available for the everyday person.

I mean, remember when we first started flying passengers on airlines, only the rich could afford it then too. And it has to -- the infrastructure and the commercialization has to occur in order for the prices to come down, the competition to drive those prices down.

So I'm really looking forward to this because, you know, number one, it's going to increase our technology development here in the United States as we lead in commercial space flight. But also because once people get that view of the Earth, I think they'll have a much bigger appreciation for our planet but also kind of where we are in this place of the cosmos.

BROWN: Is that one of the reason why you think it is so important for the everyday American to potentially have access to a rocket that would go to space because of the perspective it gives?

WHITSON: It's so important, I think, for understanding just carrying about our planet but also about why we need to continue exploration and expanding our technologies and increasing our capabilities. It's so important as we learn more and can commercialize space using it for mining or developing things on board, like, for instance, commercial space station, where we can do contact lenses or, excuse me, corneal lenses for people and different -- all kinds of different things, pharmaceuticals that can be made so much better in space.

BROWN: So, as you know, there were two women on board. We can see them in this video right here. They were on board Branson's space plane today. This has long been a male-dominated field. Are you encouraged to see more women traveling to space?

WHITSON: Oh, absolutely. You know, we strive, I think, to make it no longer a question that anyone would ask. It just should be automatic. Women and minorities should be included everywhere.

BROWN: I completely agree with that.

I also wanted to ask you, as someone who has been there, Richard Branson was replaying what it was like for him to Rachel Crane, and he talked about the silence and how that was a beautiful part of the experience and looking down at Earth. Help us understand a little bit more about what that is like to leave the atmosphere.

WHITSON: Well, I think leaving the atmosphere is a very special event. The view is so clear. It's hard to explain and to put into words, but I like to use the analogy that it's like I lived my whole life in semidarkness and somebody certainly turned the lights on. The clarity of everything that you see, of the colors, the richness, it is very eye opening, literally. BROWN: And transformative experience. All right, legendary NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson, great to have you on the show. Thank you so much for your time.

WHITSON: No problem. Thanks for having me.

BROWN: Well, another round of the debate over COVID vaccine boosters. Pfizer will virtually brief U.S. government officials tomorrow on the potential need for booster shots.


A company spokesperson told CNN the meeting is seen as a courtesy and federal guidance on boosters is not expected to immediately change. Pfizer said last week that it's seeing waning immunity and would seek emergency use authorization to offer third doses. Then the FDA and CDC pushed back almost immediately saying there is no evidence boosters are needed yet.

Further complicating this conversation, Israel announcing today it is immediately offering a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for immune- compromised people.

Joining us is former White House Senior Adviser for COVID Response, Andy Slavitt. Andy, we sure to have a lot to discuss. I laid out some of that right there. The delta variant keeps on spreading in the U.S. and around the world.

We're going to take a quick break. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BROWN: Back now with former White House Senior Adviser for COVID Response Andy Slavitt.


He's the author of Preventable, the Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response. Thanks for joining us tonight, Andy. Great to have you on, so much to discuss.

Let's start with this confusion over booster shots. Pfizer said it's going to seek an emergency use authorization for a third shot. Both the CDC and FDA are saying, we don't need boosters yet. But, tonight, Israel says it will immediately offer a third dose for people with compromised immune systems. What are people to think, especially people who are more vulnerable who have been vaccinated?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHTIE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: It's great to be with you, Pam. The -- let's remember, Israel vaccinated folks a bit earlier than the U.S., and so everybody is watching Israel to see whether or not the first signs of immunity beginning to wane occurs. And I think Pfizer, because it's been the vaccine of choice in Israel and the Israeli Health Ministry have been looking at the data closely and, by the way, have the U.S. government, CDC and FDA.

But I think what everybody is seeing is a picture that says that there are -- at the current moment in the U.S., there's no need to even -- for people to consider getting a third booster, where people's immunity levels are in very strong shape, the vaccines are very, very effective.

But the U.S. has gone ahead and purchased several hundred more vaccines and is watching the data closely because, like Israel and like Pfizer, there is a possibility that around the corner, certain populations, large -- namely people over 65, are going to likely need a third booster. But that won't be for a little while.

BROWN: So what about this Pfizer meeting tomorrow with the White House? Could Pfizer have information and bring that to the table that the White House doesn't know?

SLAVITT: This is good practice. I mean, this is the practice that's go on for the last year and a year and a half, is it's good for the government and the pharmaceutical companies to be in sync on the data in case the pharmaceutical companies think they're seeing something in the data that the White House, that -- not the White House, I should say, that the CDC and FDA aren't.

I think the FDA and CDC are seeing the same information. I talked to Rochelle Walensky yesterday from the CDC. She's talking to Israeli figures all the time. So the data has been pretty widely shared. It's just good for everybody to communicate and be on the same page.

But, ultimately, from the standpoint of Americans, we should be looking to our scientific agencies. We should be looking to CDC and FDA to make independent decisions. They can listen to what Pfizer has to say. They can listen to what a lot of people have to say. But the public should know that they're going to reach their own judgment, not impacted by with either pharmaceutical companies or frankly by the White House or politicians have to say. They'll follow the science.

BROWN: So as far as you know, they're standing by their statement, the CDC and FDA, about booster shots, right?

SLAVITT: Yes, and I think -- and I don't think that Pfizer said anything in disagreement with that. I think they said they're filing for the potential of a future need for booster shots, not for anything that might be immediate. And we should be planning for those contingencies. When I was there and after I left the White House, the government, Biden has made plans to make sure that we have enough vaccines in case boosters are needed. We should be prepared for that scenario. But it's not upon us.

BROWN: And still you have the delta variant spreading like wildfire mostly among the unvaccinated, cases spiking again. This pandemic remains a political football. We just played reaction from the crowd at CPAC. They cheered when it was announced that Biden missed his July 4th goal of getting 70 percent of Americans vaccinated. Your reaction?

SLAVITT: My reaction is that, people -- politicians ought to take a step back and make sure they don't do in 2021 to vaccines what they did to masks in 2020. And I should be -- want it clear and that is politicians, right-wing Republican politicians are in danger of doing that. Let people go through an honest dialogue with themselves and their doctors about whether it's right for them to get vaccinated.

And if you don't want to get vaccinated, Marjorie Taylor Greene, by all means, don't get vaccinated, but make sure that you don't poison other people by essentially telling them that their political identity is caught up in a medical decision. This is a decision that makes sense for Americans, if they learn the information. They need to make this decision for themselves with their doctors, not with political interference.

BROWN: So you brought up Marjorie Taylor Greene. You took to Twitter last week saying, quote, I deeply regret that we live in a world where I have to respond to Marjorie Taylor Greene, but, alas. You knocked down her, frankly, ridiculous comments that the Biden door-to-door campaign to encourage vaccines was like medical brown shirts showing up and ordering you to get a shot. That is an absurd comparison.

But do you think it would be more effective to get more skeptical Republicans vaccinated if Biden wasn't the face of it talking about it publicly and just let these community leaders continue to quietly do their grassroots efforts they've been doing since the spring?


SLAVITT: I think Biden is being -- using the bully pulpit effectively and that he's letting people have the local -- what he's essentially saying is, look, it's your choice, Americans. We don't coerce people in this country. But when he says door-to-door, what he's saying is, go talk to your neighbors, go talk to your doctors, go talk to your pharmacists. That's where the dialogues need to occur.

Largely speaking, most of the people who are going to get vaccinated in the early stage because of -- because they have some sort of broader sense that they want to do it are through that process. We're now down to people who are in two camps. People who are still considering it but have concerns of one sort or another, or people who may just not be paying enough attention. And so those local conversations are really what's important here, Pam.

BROWN: Right. And I want to just ask you about this conservative movement that's going on in some parts. I man, Tennessee you've got this situation where after its ad campaign promoting vaccines for kids 12 and up, there was a lot of outcry from people there locally. And so the health officials stopped, the clinics they were doing stopped outreach online to teens to get vaccinated. What is your reaction to that?

SLAVITT: Well, I worry, and this is what a little bit of what the book you talked about, Preventable is about, is that politicians really should stay away from scientific and clinical decisions and decision-making. It's always a bad formula. It is a decision that parents and teens and tweens need to make for themselves. Do I get vaccinated or not? Do I want to protect myself from the delta variant or do I not. And to have that as a decision that they make is -- you know, it's a challenging enough decision for some people who don't know what the right answer is.

But to have your political party tell you, hey, this is not what you should be doing. Health officials should not be influenced by that. And sometimes that means they're going to take heat because people feel strongly but that's part of the job.

BROWN: Okay, very quickly. I want to ask about schools reopening. The CDC has made it clear that schools should be open, in-person learning should be prioritized but you have a delta variant spreading, you have kids under 12 not being vaccinated and you have unions, teachers unions who don't want vaccine mandates in some cases. So is it really safe? Is that a safe dynamic?

SLAVITT: I think it could be made safe. I think it could be made safe to go back to school in person with only very, very rare exceptions for people who need certain accommodations. And they can be made safe because kids will either be vaccinated or the guidance is that they should put in other layers of protection, including masks. Unlike last year, teachers will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated, so they will either be vaccinated or if they're not, they will have not been vaccinated because either by choice or some other reason, which they can take up.

So the benefits of in-person learning are obviously critical. I think the Department of Education and Health and Human Services have gone through this and found it to be safe. I think all states will find it to be safe as well. What's going to be strange is different states and different counties and school districts are going to have different measures they put in place. And that's going to be confusing for parents. And sometimes parents have to go against the grain of a school district that tells them kids don't need to wear masks when the parents and kids may feel more comfortable wearing masks. So that could cause a little bit of trouble and confusion.

BROWN: Yes. I know right now parents already talking about that. And vaccines and all of that is a big talker because in some parts of the country, schools starts up in a few weeks. It's hard to believe. All right, Andy Slavitt, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate you coming on as always.

We have more to come tonight on CNN Newsroom. I'm going to talk to a man who was fully vaccinated but was one of the rare people who still got COVID and had to be hospitalized. His message tonight to people who haven't gotten the shot and why he thinks you should keep wearing a mask even if you are vaccinated.

Plus, Republicans launch a new committee to actually learn about climate change. I'm going to talk to the congressman leading the way coming up.

And the soaring cost of child care. Day care for one year could cost as much as a new car.

But, first, former President Trump going after his usual targets, the Biden White House and the media, as he takes the spotlight at the conservative conference in Dallas. Sara Murray is following it all from Dallas and she joins us next.



BROWN: Turning to Texas now. Former President Trump took the stage about an hour ago at CPAC, the conservative conference still delivering the same old lines and lies that we've heard since he lost the election. Trump promising to secure our borders, stop the left and its so-called cancel culture and railing against what he's dubbed the fake news media. We've heard that plenty, haven't we?

CNN's Sara Murray is in Dallas. So, Sara, this was sort of like a rerun of Trump's old greatest hits, right, I mean, bragging about being impeached twice and he got a standing ovation. Obviously, quite a reception for him there.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he did get a standing ovation when he made a joke about getting impeached twice. So it is clear he's relishing in this crowd. He's been speaking for more than an hour. He's going over his greatest hits. We are in Texas. So, unsurprisingly, he went after the Biden administration for their handling of the southern border.

Here's a little taste of what he had to say about that.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We were doing so well until the rigged election happened to come along. We were doing really well. But today, that heritage is under threat like never before.


Who would have thought this could have happened? Even Bernie Sanders is saying, I never thought this could happen. He's mild, by comparison.

In a matter of mere months, Joe Biden has brought our country to the brink of ruin. Right here in Texas we are the epicenter of a border and migration crisis unlike anything anyone has ever seen before in the history of our country.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There you heard that rigged election bit at the beginning there. Obviously it's going to be no surprise to you, Pam, that the former president is still doubling down on this lie that he actually won the 2020 election. The notion that there was fraud, even though there's no evidence of widespread fraud. He's still complaining about election officials in Georgia who would not help him overturn the results of the election.

But the crowd here is eating it up. You know, they announced the results of the straw poll before Trump took the stage and it showed 70 percent of CPAC attendees would support Trump if he ran again. The person who came second was Ron DeSantis. It wasn't even close. He was at 21 percent. And that's indicative of where this crowd is at. A lot of people in this crowd believe that Trump won. They've been chanting Trump won all weekend.

And, you know, normally this is the kind of event that draws the shining stars of the Republican Party. The up and comers who are maybe eyeing a presidential bid. But Trump has effectively frozen the field. He is the main draw at CPAC. He's the only one that the folks at least here really want to hear from -- Pam.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: You know, Sara, this is like 2016 all over again. Seeing you there covering Trump, talking about, you know, rigged election. He was talking about that in 2016. And I remember at the time we couldn't believe he was saying that, and now it's just something basically we've come to expect from him.

All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much. Great to see you. Did you want to say something?

It's hard to even fathom, the Death Valley could hit 130 degrees today. We're going to have a live report on the extreme heat wave gripping the West up next.



BROWN: Misery by degrees. Much of the western United States is broiling in a brutal heat wave with more than 30 million people under excessive heat alerts. Daily records are falling and all-time records could also be shattered in what is becoming a brutal summer for many Americans.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles -- Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Pam, we have a slight breeze here so it's in the 80s in Los Angeles but in other parts of Los Angeles County, that excessive heat warning that you talked about, a risk of heat-related illnesses, and that's spread out throughout the West. You may have heard that Las Vegas, Nevada, hit 117 degrees yesterday. And because of that, and because of wildfires, officials there, utility officials, are warning everybody to conserve energy tonight.

A major culprit is this fire in Oregon, southwest Oregon. It's called the Boot Heel Fire. It has exploded to 143,000 acres. Now this has put new stress on the electric grid. That's because it's threatening power lines and that power goes to California and Nevada. So it is indeed having a ripple effect throughout the West.

And as for some of the temperatures, we talk a lot about record highs. Well, let's talk about some of the lows. For example, in Indio, California, the other night, it never got below 89 degrees. And that ties a record there. And moving up the coast, British Columbia has been savaged by this heat. And no more than the shellfish in the Vancouver area. A billion shellfish may have died. We're talking about mussels and clams by basically being baked. One scientist was explaining just how much we saw in terms of the destruction.


PROF. CHRISTOPHER HARLEY, MARINE BIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA: You can find between 50 and 100 dead mussels in an area just about the size of a coaster. And if you, you know, scale that up to something the size of your stove top, there might be a few thousand.


VERCAMMEN: And it's not quite 4:00 here in the West, so it's still very possible that we shatter some more record temperatures today. Back to you, Pam.

BROWN: All right, Paul. You're probably going want to take that coat off. Thanks so much for coming on the show as always. Really good to see you.

Well, Utah tied its all-time high temperature this weekend. 117 degrees in the southwestern city of St. George. And joining me now is Congressman John Curtis.


He's a Republican from Utah and is chairman of the newly formed Conservative Climate Caucus. Its goal is to convince House Republicans that they're not abandoning conservative values by supporting climate- focused legislation.

Congressman, thanks for coming on the show.

REP. JOHN CURTIS (R-UT): Hello, Pamela. Great to be with you.

BROWN: So in our previous segment, you heard Paul talk about, you know, the more than 30 million people under an excessive heat wave on the West Coast, all-time records being hit. Do you view that as an extension of climate change and a warning for what's to come if something more isn't done?

CURTIS: You know, I'm not a scientist. I think we have to be a little careful because sometimes one-time events feel like climate change. You've probably heard my colleagues say look at how cold it is. That means there can be no climate change. So I think we want to look more at trends, long-term trends to really understand what's going on with the planet.

BROWN: I just want to be clear that the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2005. Seven of those have occurred just since 2014 according to NOAA. That seems to be a pretty big trend, not a one-time event.

CURTIS: Sure. And that's -- yes, that's exactly what I mean as opposed to the temperatures like today. That's -- it's hard to say, right, if the temperatures today are tied into that. But clearly there's a trend. I don't argue you on that at all.

BROWN: So, Congressman Curtis, many Republicans, as you well know, including former president Trump, have either denied or downplayed human's role in climate change. It has become part of the GOP's identity. Let's listen to Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I don't know about you guys, but I think climate change is, as Lord Monckton said -- OK? And by the way it is.


BROWN: So Senator Johnson as we know went on to question why the U.S. is focused on the climate crisis at all or climate change, however you want to put it. How big of a hill are you climbing to sway Republican skepticism on this issue?

CURTIS: Well, I'll tell you, Pamela. What's been really exciting to me is the voices like you just played, I think are actually in the minority. We've just been too silent, the rest of us. You know, we had 65 members of the House join our caucus in just a week's time. That's a third of all Republican members of Congress joined this caucus. And I think one of the things we need to do is start speaking up and being the voice rather than some of these isolated voices that don't represent many of us.

BROWN: Right. Because it seems like in a way climate change has been weaponized. Right? It has often been a Republican rallying cry on the campaign trail, even at friendly gatherings like what we saw there with Senator Johnson. But do you really think that the party can be swayed, that this should be not only an issue to be looking at, but a top issue?

CURTIS: Well, let me just say, this is where we stop and say, wait a minute. Republicans, historically, have been very good on the environment. If you go back in time, it was Richard Nixon who put together the EPA. Teddy Roosevelt, the Forest Service. And we frequently I think lose sight of our roots in that. And I think we as Republicans should be proud of our past, speak up and acknowledge, look, we've been a little bit silent.

We've not been at the table in this debate for the last few years and that's allowed us to be branded as not caring about the earth.

BROWN: Right. Yes. Certainly. I mean, you talk about the history. You're right. That was then. The Republican Party now or in the past few years, before, different. Right? But you're trying to change that. Why is it so important for you to come out now and be a leader on this effort to combat climate change?

CURTIS: Well, that's a really good question. I can just tell you personally, I feel a great responsibility to lead on this. I represent a beautiful district. One of the most beautiful districts, I think, in the country. I represent the youngest district in the country. And I don't know about my colleagues but I'll tell you what, I hear about this everywhere I go. It's an important issue.

And as Republicans, we have been really good at saying what we don't like. But there's a host of ideas out there that we can embrace that are very, very good for the environment and I actually think better than the set of ideas currently on the table.

BROWN: Right. And, you know, I was reading some of the past comments or what you've said about this and you've said sometimes, though, although I think the average age in your district is 26 so I imagine most of the young people are very into this issue. But maybe some of your older constituents or others say, oh, my gosh, you're talking about climate change, and they equate that with some of the left policies, the --


BROWN: The Green New Deal and so forth. What have you been hearing from people in the party?

CURTIS: So I think it's important to point out that the word climate is difficult for Republicans. And for your viewers to understand that, I would equate it to the word the wall. Right? The wall is just jampacked full of emotion. And if I required somebody to agree that the wall was good before we had a meaningful conversation about immigration, that would be a stop, right, for a lot of meaningful conversations.

And the word climate is the same thing to a lot of Republicans. It's tied into the Green New Deal or extreme ideas. And I think so when I talk about it with my constituents, I just go back to the real fundamental basics.


Less pollution is better than more pollution. Right? We want to be good stewards over this earth. We have a responsibility to take care of it. And even in a district that's one of the most conservative in the country's that resonates in -- I just say, Utahans are the best environmentalists in the world. They just don't like to identify as environmentalists.

BROWN: So another emerging piece -- center piece of the GOP, as you well know, has been the big lie that the election was stolen from President Trump. You took a political risk by dismissing that. You voted to certify the results.


BROWN: Are you worried that your party is staking so much on something that is provably false?

CURTIS: You know, I think we have a choice as Republicans. It was just a little over four years ago when I think Democrats had the same choice. A lot of Democrats were caught, you know, into this Russian involvement and spending too much time on it and so focused on it that they weren't looking forward and putting forward their own legislation. I think Republicans have the same choice. We can look back or we can look forward. And if we don't look forward, I think it's going to be a mistake for us.

BROWN: I want to ask you about COVID, Congressman. There are 12 Utah counties listed as high transmission, and 11 of those 12 counties, less than 60 percent of the adult population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Today at CPAC, conservatives applauded the White House falling short of its vaccination goal. Does it worry you that a public health shortfall becomes an applause line?

CURTIS: Well, it's not something I would applaud. And let me just say, I want to take this opportunity to say look, I had the vaccine early. It's important. I know dear friends who did not get the vaccine and are actually hospitalized because of it. I lost a business partner's brother who didn't get vaccinated.

This is serious, right? And so it's not something that we should take lightly. And I think as elected leaders, we have a responsibility to be out front, encouraging people to get vaccinated and be very, very careful with where they get their information and what information they are believing.

BROWN: Congressman John Curtis, thank you for lending your voice to this important discussion and sharing your views. You're welcome back any time. We appreciate your time.

CURTIS: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: From pivot to we were on a break, whether you were a "Friends" fan or not, you knew the show took over American pop culture. Our Stephanie Elam is at the famous fountain where "no one told you life was going to be this way" -- I'm not going to try to sing it because I have a horrible voice according to my husband -- as we look ahead to tonight's premiere of "HISTORY OF THE SITCOM."



BROWN: Well, get ready to be re-acquainted with the television friends, family and co-workers you grew up watching. The CNN Original Series "HISTORY OF THE SITCOM" debuts tonight. The eight-part docuseries features interviews with more than 180 stars from Dick van Dyke to Dan Levy. And here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those were not real people, but they entertained and delighted us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, kids. Dinner's done. We're sitting down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you get to "Father Knows Best," it's very patriarchal, dealing with tiny little problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quiet evening at home. I can use it. BILLY GRAY, ACTOR: And I played Bud. Bud usually had a problem with

truth telling on some level.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was all that racket upstairs?

GRAY: I didn't hear anything.

"Father Knows Best" represented the good life, the American dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, I'll read you one story and then off to bed you go.


BROWN: The genre has been around for 70 years but this hour we are not going back too far into the archives. Stephanie Elam is at the Warner Brothers Studio back lot in Burbank, California.

And Stephanie, I'm guessing many of our viewers recognize that iconic backdrop.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, how many people wish that they could sit here and hang out with their friends, Pam? See what I did there? I'm not going to sing either but I can do the clap. Cha, cha, cha, cha, right? We all know that, right? But here is a place that people love to come on the Warner Brothers Studio tour. They can come to the fountain. This is the fountain that they all played in in the opening of the show.

This is also Central Park behind me, by the way, so multiple episodes were filmed here for "Friends" as well. You can see all of this when you come here, and there are so many different shows that have been filmed here. This lot has been here since 1928. There's some 37 sound stages here on this property, and so people really can see a lot of their shows whether it be right now " Bob Hearts Abishola" or if you go back to George Lopez, "Family Matters."

There are so many things that have been filmed here and just to see that, you know, people are coming out right now, as a matter of fact, to take their pictures in front of the fountain, people love that.

I want to show you also just because everything is so close here, I'm going to turn around and show you that this is French Street here behind me. This is French Street, so a lot of French things. They would like to film here. You can pretend you're in Paris. And also is from "Big Bang Theory," this is where Leonard and Sheldon lived. That little orange door right there? That would have been their opening from their apartment.

And it's supposed to be just up the road, not in Burbank, but in Pasadena. And even though it's filmed here the folks at Pasadena embracing it and actually going ahead and naming an alley for the show, for "Big Bang Theory," which, you know, based in Southern California and shot here on the lot. So little signs like that that you can find places that you can see and later, coming up, Pam, we're going to get you a little bit closer to the "Big Bang Theory" just a little bit of tease of what else you're going to see here today as we get really excited and are looking forward to the "HISTORY OF THE SITCOM" which premieres at 9:00 p.m. tonight.


BROWN: You have such a fun assignment. I've got to say, I'm pretty jealous that you get to go and visit all these sites from our favorite sitcoms.

All right, Stephanie Elam, we'll check back with you here in a little bit. Thanks so much.

And be sure to tune in "HISTORY OF THE SITCOM" premieres tonight with back-to-back episodes at 9:00 and 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN. You're not going to want to miss that.

Well, despite Pfizer preparing for another round of booster shots, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the data just doesn't show the need right now. We're going to have more on that ahead.