tv Charlie Rose PBS January 17, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with bob costa of "the washington post" reflecting on his interview with donald trump, president-elect, ant his plans to replace obamacare. >> something reflective of the trade throughout the campaign of trump is he's not driven by ide logical passions. he has a political antenna in the airport he knows the democrats are making the case the 20 million people covered under obamacare could lose their insurance if repealed and replaced and trump nose politically republicans have to have an answer for that, and he did say he's been watching what's happening with a failure of consensus among republicans and says he has a plan. >> rose: we continue with a conversation about the new film
"fences," produced directed and stars denzel and viola davis and with me is denzel and covenants covenants, wife of august wilson. >> you learn paragraphs have a meaning so you learn not to make too much of a meal out of it or it won't make sense and august is the same way. >> we conclude with billy eichner with "billy on the street" and "difficult people." >> we have a strange trajectory on the show. a lot of shows are hot and buzzy when they pre-mir and get quiet. this is the opposite. premiered five years ago, who one knew what it was and every season has gotten progressively more popular. bob costa, denzel washington, covenantconstanza romero wilsond
billy eichner when we continue. blvrng >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin with a look at president-elect donald trump's plans for healthcare legislation in. an interview over the weekend with the who's he said he nearly finished his plan to replace president obama's affordable care act. many republicans expressed concern last week about the party's lack of a formal proposal as they held votes on repealing the law enforcement trump said his goal was to provide insurance for everybody and vowed to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on medicaid and medicare prices.
bob costa joins me. how did this interview come about? >> in the usual way. requested an interview, especially after i was at the capital friday covering congress, and there is anxiety in the senate and the house that the party didn't have a plan. so i was curious whether president-elect trump was watching this debate and it's clear he certainly is. >> rose: what did you learn from what he said and he learn from watching the debate? >> something reflective of a trade i found throughout the campaign covering trump is he's not driven by ideological passions. this is someone who has a political antenna in the air. he knows the democrats are making the case that 20 million people covered under obamacare could lose their insurance if it's repealed and replaced and trump nose politically republicans have to have an answer for that, and he did say that he has been watching what's
happening with the failure of a consensus among republicans, and he said he has a plan. now, he did not go into detail, which is important to note, but he said say he's down to the final strokes, and he also added a curve ball, a populous message of sorts, said he wants to go after the pharmaceutical companies on prices. in trump's thinking he is working with ryan in the house and mcconnell in the senate but he has his own trump touch. >> rose: to get the pharmaceutical companies to reduce price of drugs they sell to the government for medicare and medicaid, i assume. >> especially for medicare. it's not a traditional republican position. it's one of the most protected industries in washington. pretty cozy with the republican party. trump said they're not politically protected anymore that they will expect to negotiate with the government and he will force them at times to produce drugs here in the
united states. >> rose: he is not afraid to use the bully pulpit of the white house and his own twitter account to threaten or to push large american corporations to do what he thinks they ought to do. >> not at all. but i was struck that he tried to balance, in the course of the conversation, his high praise for ryan and mcconnell. came back to how much he likes ryan and mcconnell, people who he hasn't had the warmest relationships with, especially ryan, and his point he would be willing as president to tweet at republicans, to encourage them in various ways to use the power of the presidency. so he's threatening them in a way while also embracing them at the same time. >> rose: what does he mean by insurance for everybody i? >> this has been a hot topic since the interview was published because people are perking their ear their ears wof
trump wants coverage and single payer. there were said he doesn't want single payer with you universal access to health care. how he does sit a very difficult task. we've seen it under obamacare. but trump again is a politician, wants to have an answer for the 20 million currently covered. >> rose: does he have numbers add up that will allow him to do this? >> we have not seen numbers. he continues to say he is in negotiations with the congress and has his own plan in mind. again, this is trump trying to get the stakes of the debate, trying to set a marker that he will provide this kind of universal access or he'll have the ability to have coverage for everyone but no details yet. >> rose: when will the details come out? >> he said it will be right after tom price, the georgia congressman up for human healthen services secretary is
confirmed. >> rose: some say it likely means universal access instead of universal coverage. >> we saw in comments from republicans after the interview was posted that they hoped trump meant yiewrsle access not a universal guarantee of coverage. but trump is torn in a way between the need to have everyone covered and he knows the reality of republicans on capitol hill aren't willing to have government expansion to try to fulfill that goal, but trump said throughout the campaign and referenced the "60 minutes" interview in our chat that no one will die on the streets in my administration. that is a way, a cadence speaking on healthcare, a language republicans don't have that makes him so different and that's why capitol hill responded so strongly to the interview, whether he'll push them in a direction they're not comfortable with. >> rose: what's the mood among republicans about donald trump so far?
>> they like his salesmanship. when they heard he had a replacement nearly done working with ryan and others, they were pretty happy sunday and monday. at the same time, as much as at a think he has the bully pulpit and the ability to sell his plan or his ideas to democrats, republicans and independents, they want to make sure their position as stakeholders, as conservatives mostly who have been elected to have congressional majorities that thain fluence the debate as much as he does. but they're so wary, charlie, of angering or alienating him, there's a real fear privately mostly among republicans that you just can't cross this president-elect or else you put yourself at real political risk. >> rose: we know ronald reagan when he was president had the capacity to go over the heads of both republicans and democrats and appeal to their constituencies. donald trump is seeming to try to do the same thing. >> he is. he told me, charlie, congress, they better not get cold feet, he said, because the people
won't tolerate it, the people. this comes back to a theme trump started to articulate more and more since he won in november, he thinks "there is a movement behind him." depends on how you think you want to define it but he thinks there is a group of people who are supportive of whatever donald trump's change is and the way he speaks about policy and thinks he has the backing whether 20 million on twitter and millions more on facebook, he thinks he can activate that movement. again he's not as many president-elects traditionally have been in the polls and republicans and democrats have real concerns about him. how much will the movement trump talks about really going to push his agenda. >> rose: we're here to talk ability healthcare because of the attention it has in congress now, but he's pushing against n.a.t.o., against the chancellor of germany. >> this aspect of trump's
weekend interviews, he gave an interview to the "times" of london and one of the major newspapers in in your opinion, and why washington is more alarmed than those interviews than even his healthcare comments is because he's so far removed from the hawkish consensus in the republican party and in many parts of the democratic party. he's not talking about western europe in the way most american politicians do partly because steve bannon at his side almost every day, michael flynn retired general coming in as national security advisor, they don't think about europe and the world in the same way most republicans and d.p.s. have for decades. >> rose: how do they think about europe? >> tare more open mind -- they're more open minded about russia and thinks russia presents a possible ally against the islamic state.
they think, bannon more, pub isolated with trade and economic issues and not owe anything to western europe. when you talk to certain diplomatic officials in washington and other countries, trair trying to get a read on what bannon is telling trump, bringing over the figures from the brexit movement in england, there is rhetoric from trump on russia. it's something people really can't comprehend in official washington and diplomatic circles. >> rose: the former u.s. ambassador of n.a.t.o. tweets and jeffrey goldberg retweets, jeffrey goldberg the editor of "the atlantic," trump is more critical of putin and allies than russia, and we're entering an upside down world. that's an emerging consensus among analysts. >> it is.
throughout the campaign when i spoke to trump about foreign policy, he was not rooted in a foreign view even though he followed global affairs throughout his life, he never really took the bush or clinton view on foreign policy. as he was watching world affairs unfold during the campaign, it was a reactive foreign policy, something based on pure nationalistic instincts rather than any kind of strategic vision for the world. trump has spoken to henry kissinger and many top officials from previous administrations but no one has taken hold as a whisperer in the same way bannon and flynn do who have this nationalist view of the world for the united states. >> rose: what's their explanations of flynn's conversations with the russian ambassador? >> the trump campaign or transition acknowledged some of the calls have happened and said they're purely logistical. but one thing i've continually
heard from my sources is flynn's following up on trump's own view that he wants to have warmer relationships with russia, that the idea of getting rid of some of the sanctions on russia is certainly in the conversations, in trump tower, and there's a real sense that russia, in spite of all the clouds hanging over this past campaign, could still be a major ally for the trump president. >> rose: notwithstanding the fact there are investigations underway and senate armed services and other places about what russia might have done in terms of hacking the trump administration and the president-elect himselves are basically saying they want a better relationship so rather than increasing sanctions they want a letter relationship and are prepared to negotiate the reducing of sanctions if it will get them some benefit from putin. >> that's certainly very much a possibility and it comes as a bipartisan committee in the senate, senate republicans and democrats are working together
to try to further probe in the coming months russia's role in u.s. foreign policy, in the u.s. election. but trump himself in his press conference seemed to acknowledge russia did have a role in the hack but has not put him in any way more of a distance from russia in the way he talks about it. >> rose: you have had a very, very, very highly-praised coverage of this campaign, the rise of donald trump and donald trump's preparation for the presidency. how do you think he sees the press? is there some danger here if terms of something that is different from what might have been before in every other administration? >> i think we've seen some discussions now about whether the press would move to the old executive office building and that has made some in the press really concerned. but i think the way trump sees
it, charlie, trump is complicated in this way because he really loves to be in the press, he constantly consumes media, he's up every day watching television and reading the newspaper so he's not like past presidents who shy away from watching cable. we always heard president obama didn't really like to watch cable news, same with president george w. bush. trump is thinking every day the way he lives his public and political life. at the same time he's highly sensitive to many stories. people close to trump told me he's still unhappy about the way this russia story and alleged compromised information was floated if this dossier by a formal official. he didn't like the way that played out in the press, so you have issues that are really agitating him behind the scenes with the press that hasn't helped those relationships. he's also such a total outsider.
that's important to remember when we look at the prize. of trump and the press. with bernie sanders, senator from vermont, with trump, there's so few relationships with trump among those in the press. i used to cover trump for years which is kind of how i got to know him, but so many in the press don't understand that he's just not a typical politician and he doesn't do much to soothe the relationship. he always tweets against them and enjoys the confrontation. people can't process that. he relishes to fight? the answer is yes. he actually loves confrontation especially with the press because he thinks disruption can be power. >> rose: where is he on the wall -- and when smbs says fence he gets upset. >> very upset. you know bannon's close to him, you know jerry kushner is closed to him and reince priebus as chief of staff, and the other figure central to the presidency is senator jeff sessions of
alabama the new attorney general should he be confirmed, and sessions is already helping trump, and this is hard reporting, to come up with executive actions for the first couple weeks of the presidency, to help begin construction of the wall, because sessions has worked with trump and stephen miller trump's chief policy advisor who used to work with sessions and said they cannot let congress stall the wall, that it was the issue that helped lift trump to the white house, and something animated sessions' whole career and that's going to begin, but eventually trump will have to work with the republican congress that's wary about the project because of political reasons. you've got to run, do you want to be responsible for that politically. >> rose: pleasure to have you. hope we can look forward to many conversations like this as we look at the beginning of the trump administration. >> thank you, charlie.
>> rose: denzel washington starred in over 40 films, won two academy awards for his acting and nominated six times. here's a look at some of his work. >> let me explain something to you. see, the way i figure, i figure this war would be over a whole lot sooner if you boys just turn right andrei lugovoi head on back down that way and you let us head up where the real fighting is. >> young men dying up that road. wouldn't be nothing but ribs down there if they left the 54th in it. >> this is hypocrisy. the negro leaders running around telling the white men everything is all right, we have everything under control, that everything that mohammed is teaching us is wrong, but mr. mohammed said these things will come to pass now they're coming to pass. >> tell us what the case is about. the general public's loathing and fear of homosexuals and how that claimant of hatred and fear translated into the firing of
this particular homosexual. my client. andrew beckett. >> i'm the man up in this piece! you will never see the light of day! i'm the police! i run this! you just live here! yeah, that's right, you better walk away. go on and walk away because i'm going to burn this (bleep) down! king kong ain't got (bleep) on me! >> i'm drunk now. i'm drunk right now. i'm an alcoholic. >> rose: his latest film which he also directed is an adaptation of august wilson's
1987 pulitzer prize winning play "fences." drama is a part of august wilson's ten place series known as the american sentry cycle. here is august wilson on this program in 1992, talking about his goal for the ambitious project. >> when you put them all together and lay them end to end you will have in essence ten plays that simply traces the odyssey of black american life in the 20th century, through the decade, through the century. >> rose: and it will be in a sense an understanding of the dilemma, the conflict, the triumph of african-americans over that period of time? >> over that period of time. what each of the plays do is place black americans who you see often so neglected in terms
of history, they're not given any historical weight, their presence in american history is not given any historical weight. it places at the spiritual center of the plays and the world. >> rose: here is the trailer for "fences." >> when i first met this woman, i latched on to her. i told her, baby, i don't want to marry, i just want to be your man. rose told me -- >> toiled him if he wasn't a mankind, move out of the way so the mankind could find me. >> that's what she told me. you're in my way, you're blocking the view, move out of the way so i can find me a husband. >> where's corey? i want him to help me with the fence. >> he got recruited by a college football team. >> it ain't going to get him nowhere. >> if he's like you, he's going to be all right. ain't two men played baseball as good as you. >> and where did it get me?
hey, pop, can i ask you a question? how come you never liked me. >> what law is there that says i got to like you? a man is supposed to take care of his family. you live in my house, eat my foot, pet your blind on my bed because you're my son. don't worry about whether somebody likes you or not, you best make sure they're doing right by you. >> corey is just trying to fill up your shoes. >> i don't want him to be like me. i want him to be as far away from my life as he can get. you're the only decent thing that happened to me. >> you can't be like -- you can't measure everyone like you troy. >> rose, i've got something to tell you. >> whyers troy, why? you ought to know. it's time. >> i don't want to know! your feet, them bones, that pumping heart -- >> you never have done nothing but hold me back.
>> everything that boy do, he do for you. >> it's not easy for me to admit i have been standing in the same place for 18 years! >> i have been standing with you! i've got a life, too! don't you think i had dreams and hopes? what about my life? what about me? >> what are you gonna do? some people build fences to keep people out. other people build fences to keep people in. >> rose: joining me, denzel washington, the film's star, director and producer and constanza romero wilson, the wife of august wilson. pleased to have them back at this table. many times for you, first time for you, but august was here, as you know, many times. to see all that film and "fences" makes me proud to call
you a friend. >> thank you. >> rose: and to see the craft at play. >> thank you. >> rose: all those years. it touches me to see young august, to hear what he's saying and then here we are. >> rose: at the same table. yeah, you know, because i haven't watched anything of him talking. i'd listened to things and read things, but that's the first time i've watched something in i don't know how long. >> rose: take a look at this. role tape. >> probably did it on purpose. i've been too scared. ( laughter ) >> rose: august wilson. here it is. >> someone said to me, a white guy said are you saying whites are not capable of directing? i said, no. the industry is saying blacks are not capable, because every movie that you have that's about the black experience made by hollywood as opposed to independent films, the color purposing, et cetera, i could name a lot, they're all directed
by white directors as though whites are saying that they set themselves up as the custodian to have the black experience. and i'm saying i don't want see any blacks making film about italian or jewish life or whatnot. so when you have a situation in which the content of the play is so much enmeshed in black culture, i think you have to have a black sensibility behind the camera. >> i have been saying that for months. people have been asked about that, but they say race, but i have been been saying what he just finished saying, which is cultural differences between good fellows and schindlers list. bill burk and others could have directed schindlers list, but there are cultural differences. so he's right. ( laughter ) >> rose: but you haven't heard him say that before. >> no, i didn't. >> rose: wye did you want to
do this beyond how much it speaks to you and beyond maybe some sense that black men should direct this? >> i was asked, as simple as that. it started with the play. scott ruden brought the screenplay to me seven years ago. i read it and realized i hadn't read the play. i read the play and said troy max in 53 and i was 55 when i read it. i thought i was too young to the part going back to seeing it in the '80s, i saw it through corey's eyes. so i called scott and said i want to do the play. that was seven years ago. >> rose: want the do the play? the play first. >> rose: right. i don't think i said i wanted to do the play first because i wasn't going to commit to it, but i had to go true that experience to find out if i could do the part. >> rose: did it speak to you from the very beginning when you read it? >> oh, yeah, yeah. >> rose: what was it? that's a good question, because it's not one thing. it's not like i saw that and
went, oh -- it's like, oh, that's sort of like my father, that's how we used to do. it was our culture. it was, you know, things we were talking about then, and the time that he took to let people tell stories was so natural and real, it just made me think of the holidays around my house or times when uncles or somebody was there and there was one that always kept going and going. i had an uncle who could drink but i never saw him drinking, but the glass was always going down, but i never saw him drinking, because i used to watch him. i never saw him drinking, now it's down there. ( laughter ) >> rose: yeah. where did august put "fences" among all the things he did? >> you know, it's a very curious relationship he had with the play. i think that, after he where
maurini's black bottom which is his first, a lot of critics were saying, yes, he's a fantastic writer and has written a beautiful play but can he rise to the level of a tennessee williams and arthur miller and can he write the classic american play? and i think he rolled up his sleeves, and it's not that he sat out to write, you know, with those two giants sitting on his shoulder, but he did say, i want to write a treatise on american life. the people that surrounded him while he was growing up, the men that surrounded him, you know, he wanted to add value to their lives. he wanted to say, you know, what is it about them that makes them so noble, so, you know, people who are worth remembering. and he wrote this play and asked two of those questions, and if
you look at the body of his work, this is the only play that has one central figure, and the central figure is the larger than life-size man. and the others are much more -- sure, there are some central figures, but the attention has spread a little bit more as an ensemble. >> rose: did you get viola to do this? >> i wouldn't have done the movie out her. >> rose: having her was essential to having you? >> yeah. yeah, because, i mean, that's the experience we all had. >> rose: yeah. and not just viola. viola and stephen henderson and russell -- >> rose: when you see him, you know you've seen him, he's one of those people. >> he is bono. >> rose: he is. ( laughter )
>> another thing, he did his homework and having done 114 performances and casting theater, actors in the film makes for more richness and relationships. >> you got it. you have to be able to handle the language. if the actor or it seems to me can't get their mouth around the language, there's no improvising in this one. >> rose: you first have to hear the language. >> you have to hear it and know the music of it and know when to jump this because there's a music to it. there's a rhythm to it. and you can try and fight that but august won't allow it. >> rose: paramount owned the right to it since about '87, right? that's like 30 years. >> yeah. >> rose: any trepidation about turning it into film? or you knew this was a story you had to tell on film? >> you never know, but -- you
never know. >> rose: yeah. you know, you don't know whatever i do next, whatever i did before that, you don't know if it's going to work as a film. just because it says screenplay doesn't mean it's going to work as a film. >> rose: did you find out after day two, three, four, can you feel there is magic here? >> i knew i had a great piece of material. i if you i had great actors. i knew we had delivered before. >> rose: as long odds as you could have. >> yeah, i don't remember it being long, it might have been halfway through the first day and i weld -- and i went, okay. we did spawl things first. i remember we went to the cemetery. just what mike t. did, gabe did with leaving the piece of bread and it was, my goodness, we're already off to the races, here we go. >> rose: what was the hardest
thing about it? >> letting it go. >> rose: letting it go. letting it go. wasn't anything hard about it. >> rose: letting it go, meaning you finished it? >> letting it go. really letting it go. letting the character go. but, you know, my wife, she says to me, you know, how long -- we'll see how long troy's going to be around. ( laughter ) who's coming home today. >> yeah, yeah, yeah. >> rose: was malcolm around for a while? >> that's the one she said was around too long, making speeches. >> rose: is that right? yeah. isthis why you became an actor, the opportunity to do this kind of work, whether it's malcolm, whether it's troy, whether it's the first film we saw. >> it's interesting you say that because i really became an actor because i wanted to be like gyms
r. jones -- james r. jones. he was the example. i started acting in the mid '70s and he was on fire. there weren't a lot of african-american film actors or even films that i could look at and say, oh, i wanted to be in that in 1975, or whatever. there weren't a whole lot only films. we were sot of new york theater -- we were sort of new york theater joes snobs. i wanted to do everything james earl jones was doing, you know. at that time, it was before "fences," so he hadn't done "fences" yet. >> rose: and now do you still wantwant to do those things? >> yes, i better hurry. >> rose: you've got a bucket list there of things you want to do because you can grow into those roles, in a sense? you might have been too young earlier -- >> yeah, i want to do what i
want to do. that's what happens when you get our age. you do what you want to do. life's too short. >> rose: exactly right. it really is. >> yeah. this ain't the dress rehearsal. >> rose: no, sir! tell us about august. >> oh -- >> rose: as a man, as a -- yeah. i think that the first thing i want to say about him in light of this movie is that, you know, the first half of this movie, the way that troy is a storyteller, the way he'll take little journeys away from reality and go and, you know, sort of maybe meld two stories together or say, you know, a field full of frogs and they were all going crazy. you know, he took flights of fancy for the sake of the story.
but he was so funny. and his sense of humor was so ironic. you know, it took sometimes a couple of minutes to say, ahhh! you know. but he loved to tell stories, and he -- many times whenever we would go to party, he would sit in a quiet corner and people would come and talk to him and he would tell his stories. by the time the party was finished, everybody from the party was at this little corner. >> rose: madeup stories? no, just stories about his past and his early days in the hill of pittsburgh, you know, the hill district. >> rose: as denzel said this morning, he's up there in the lofty heights with edward who died not long ago, o'neil,
arthur miller, tennessee williams. he appreciated that this remarkable achievement of these series of plays, central plays -- >> i think so. i think he had a lot more to do. the american century cycle. he had a lot more to do and he would often tell me, i cannot wait to write plays outside the american century cycle. he was waiting for -- what he did with the ten plays is he cut the plays out of the same cloth so that they would fit as a whole, you know, with the one set and with, you know, each decade. but he had a novel in him. he had another play that, as soon as he finished one play, he would start another one. >> rose: would he rewrite? he would rewrite, yeah. but it was more like making the
plays fatter, you know, making the plays more rich. >> rose: more adding to it? yeah, more adding to it. he hated to cut, as if you didn't know. ( laughter ) because he said that is important, that is important, even though some people would have thought it was extraneous. >> rose: right. but all of those little tidbits that he put in all the plays are very large ideas about the culture and about history and about the common man. >> rose: speaking of what makes a great director among those things is casting. we talked about viola. theory is stephen henderson. take a look. ( laughter ) look here, bono, when i first met this woman, i got out there, hitched up my poney, saddled up my mare, there is a woman out
there for me somewhere. i looked out and saw rose and i latched on to her. i'm going to tell you the truth. i latched on her and told her, baby, i don't want to marry, i just want to be your man. rose told me -- tell them, reis. >> i told them if he wasn't mankind, move out to have the way so the mankind could find me. >> that's what she told me, you're in my way, move out of the way so i can find me a husband. i was back in two or three days -- >> you was back the same right. i said, okay, but i'm going to buy me a banty rooster and put him in the yard and when he see a stranger come he's going to flap his wings and crow. it was the back door i was worried about. >> rose: are you going to direct anymore? >> not anytime soon. where do you go from here? >> rose: yeah. i don't see it because where would i go. no, right now, i don't even see
it. >> rose: from work that's so great and the line and the text is so fantastic, and tex persons you had with this particular piece of work. >> i need to go make money. i'm broke now. you do take a year or two out of your life and it -- my bills are bigger than -- yeah. but really, where do you go from here? so i'll just leave that alone and go somewhere else and retool. >> rose: have you tried to in your career balance some sense of stuff that you want to do that may be good work but because it has potential to be a big payday because it was so rich. >> you do some of both. i did raisin in the sun and didn't do anything else in 2014. then i did a western in 2015 and nothing else. >> rose: magnificent seven.
and all i did in $16 was "fences" and nothing else. >> rose: do you have any -- i mentioned bucket list earlier talking about different kinds of things, but are there things you very much want the to do you haven't done yet as an actor or have you touched most of the bases? >> no, because i don't like deciding in advance. it's like people saying, i wrote this just for you. i'm, like, that's the last thing i want to hear. first of all, what makes you think you know me? >> rose: yeah. and it's about opening a page and discovering a new world, a new adventure, a new way of thinking. you know, i don't want to be another garbage man right now. >> rose: yeah. i've done that, you know. >> rose: what else can you tell us about august in terms of how he felt about plays and the theater? >> oh, gosh, he was such a theater animal, really. you know, a lot of people asked him to do different projects,
you know, write a play -- excuse me -- a screenplay about martin luther king or to you back shakoor -- tupac shakur, whatever. he said, i've got my own things to do, my own voice. i've got the own characters i want to explore for myself. so he turned that down. it took an extraordinary amount of discipline, i think, for him to stay so focused. you know, who knew that he was only going to have a set amount of time to finish. >> rose: how old was he when he died? >> he was 60 and just premiered his last play at yale when he was diagnosed. it took everything out of him the last four months of his life after the diagnosis to finish and flush out radio golf so that he could finish the ten play
cycle. so, yeah, he was also very audial and he knew what worked on stage. he liked to process and work with actors and directors. he liked the way that, you know, certain actors that were, you know, some of his favorite what i call wilsonian warriors, how they treated his text. yes, mckinley henderson, another one of his favorite actors, you know. i still remember when -- you know how everybody says wilsonian -- excuse me, everybody says shakespearean, excuse me, and we were talking about a certain actor and i said, no, he's not wilsonian. he said, wilsonian?
i said, yeah. you know what i mean. and he loved it. just because you're a black actor doesn't mean you can do music of august wilson, the rhythm, the -- you know, the understanding of the underpinnings, you know, the underwaves of his words. that's why i say he's a theater animal and loved the stage. >> august, like shakespeare, when i studied shakespeare in school, you would learn that paragraphs sometimes have a meaning, so you learn not to break it down too much, don't make too much of a meal out of it or it won't make sense, and august is the same way. >> yeah. ou could sit on a speech and try to overact it or too many pauses and it won't -- there is
a rhythm to it. >> rose: what is august saying about family and marriage here? >> it's warts and all. it's the most beautiful thing. a very close, loving couple. that's why it was important for me and it's in the play, i told all the actors we have to be as loving as we can, we can't start from where we think the play starts. we have to start at the beginning. so we have to love each other. without the love, the disappointment doesn't mean anything. >> rose: thank you. thank you. >> rose: billy eichner is here, the creator and star of the pop culture of comedy game show "billy on the street." the show will conclude its fifth year on tuesday, january 24t january 24th on trutv. this season's guests have included john oliver, james
corden and lapita longo. here's a look at "billy on the street." >> immigrant or real american? and away we go! mila. >> immigrant. jeffrey domer. real american. pierce brosnan. real american. charles manson. real american. selma hayek. immigrants. gloria estefan. immigrant. ted bundy. real american. charlize the roan. immigrant. banderas. immigrant. lee harvey oswalt. real american. boston strangler. real american. caesar milan the dog whisperer. >> immigrant. timothy mcvainchts real american. >> natalie portman. immigrant. jackie chan. immigrant. casey anthony. immigrant. carlos santana.
immigrant. albert einstein. immigrant. o.g. simpson. real american. you win! >> rose: pleased to have billy eichner back at this table. how is "billy on the street" going to be different? >> as you see in tim grant game we played around with for political segments. we have an obstacle course that will be premiering in our keegan-michael key, and the theme is legally trying to buy a gun in america, and we realized there weren't that many obstacles and we created an obstacle course around it. >> rose: what's the course. it's inspired by the nickelodeon series double dare with the crazy cartoonish obstacle courses, so we for row the aesthetic from that, but ours is about trying to buy a
gun, which you realize is not terribly difficult. >> rose: you like politics. i am interested in politics. >> rose: you are. of course. >> rose: you're tweeting against trump. >> i tweet against trump on a daily basis. >> rose: on a daily basis. what are you tweeting? >> all kinds of things. last night -- >> rose: last night? i tweet multiple times a day. >> rose: do you tweet when he tweets or on your own. >> when i'm inspired. >> rose: like him. yes, we're on the same schedule ( laughter ) we tweet the same amount which is weird because i'm a exreedian and he's the president of the united states. >> rose: president-elect. president-elect. i tweeted to him last night, you are a broken man inside. >> rose: does he respond to you? >> he has not. >> rose: you're hope heg will? he's welcomed to. >> rose: is the point to draw him out? >> i feel all the jokes and tweets and sketches on comedy shows clearly get to him. he's watching and i think
checking his twitter. >> rose: he h's watching "saturday night live" and watching every tweet saying how stupid he thinks it is. >> the tweets have effect. >> rose: do you like donald trump as a character? >> no. >> rose: not even someone you can make into -- >> i don't think it's that funny. most of my tweets are more serious at this point. when he was campaigning, it was a little bit different, at least towards the early part of his campaign, but i'm having a problem laughing at trump at this point. >> rose: what is the thing that offends you most about him? >> i think he is full of it. >> rose: yeah. i've never seen someone, let alone a politician, let alone a president-elect, that is so
transapparently full of it to me. it's find boggling he is fool so many people. >> rose:. >> rose: pop culture, my impression, you are keenly observant, engaged by and enjoy pop culture. >> absolutely. >> rose: whether music, coldy, movies -- comedy, movies. >> i grew up loving the entertainment industry. i wanted to be an actor on broadway, stumbled into comedy world and here we are. >> rose: what doors has it opened for you? >> a lot. i mean, i have another series on hulu called difficult people which is a scripted show. i was on the show parks and recreation on nbc. i'm in a new series on netflix coming out next year called "friends from college" there are other things i'm working on, and all of that comes from the notoriety i got from "billy on the street."
>> rose: it opened doors. it gave you traction, it gave you everything. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: it's still as funny as it was in the beginning. >> thank you. >> rose: you know what's going to happen. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: you know the game and you want to see the game played. >> it's remarkable to me. we add a strange trajectory with the shows. a lot of shows are hot and buzzy when they premiere and get quiet. this is opposite. premiered five years ago and no one knew what it was. every season, it's gotten progressively more popular. >> rose: when you line them up, do they all say yes? >> a lot of people come to us, now, remarkably. >> rose: oh. agents say -- >> publicists and things. it's become part of someone's press junk et. >> rose: david letterman's been on the show. >> michelle obama and big bird together. it was to promote the first
laid's let's move campaign, getting kids to eat healthy, and it was part of that. so, yeah, it's become kind of a phenomenon. >> rose: is there anybody that you have desperately wanted to pursue and keep asking that they say -- >> meryl streep. >> rose: meryl streep says no? we've gotten close. >> rose: how do you get close? we've spoken to people on merle's team. we did an obstacle course called meryl-go-round. >> rose: and when president-elect trump -- >> i can't believe we're attacking meryl streep. >> rose: attacking her talent. i don't want to get into it. it's absurd. >> rose: it so offends you anybody would say something? >> everyday it's something new. it's exhausting.
i called megyn out on that on twitter but i felt the need to do it. >> rose: how is biliepstein different from billy eichner? >> billy epstein is more i hope of a three-dimensional character operating in some version of the real world on "difficult people." >> rose: might it spawn new kinds of billy eichner things? >> oh, boy, i try not to -- >> rose: like a -- it could. there might be something like that down the line. >> rose: i'm just free thinking here. >> bring it on, charlie. i need all the help i can get. >> rose: i know. i'm always here. >> i know. >> rose: i'm always here for you. ( laughter ) i mean, might you want to do something to kind of insult comedy like don rickles? >> i think of myself a little
different than don rickles. i adore him. he makes he laugh. he's brilliant. >> rose: he's a good person, too. >> i don't know him but i'm sure he is. but i don't think of "billy on the street" as an insult schtick, though that can be an aspect of it. there is snark to it. >> rose: it's almost elevated snark. >> it's a satire of show business and cultural obsessions. >> a satire of obsessions with show business and celebrity. >> the industry, as we say. >> rose: take a look at this. here's james corden, "billy on the street." >> will you join our curbside congress gay line with james corden? >> congress ga-- conga line?
yes. please join the damn conga line! get in here! we need a conga line! would you join our conga line please? >> i'm late for fork. >work, too.i'm trying to appeale masses. >> rose: john ol'ler, "billy on the street." >> sir, are you gay. yes. do you care about john ol' oliver. >> i don't know who that is. how about wendy. with of course i do. sir, are you gay. i sure am. do you care about john oliver. >> yeah. he's right here. i, john oliver! nice to meet you! sorry i'm yelling. he's far away from me. >> who do you like better john oliver or wendy williams. be honest. >> wendy williams. i knew it! sir, are you gay? >> yes. do you care about john oliver? >> i have no idea who that is. you don't know john oliver? no. how about wendy williams.
i like her. she's great. right. what do you like about her. everything. she's real. >> john oliver. i have no idea who that is. thank you. >> rose: there it is. "billy on the street." thank you, nice to have you at this table. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org