NBC's Gifford Praises 'Nonpartisan' Ed Asner Film That Blames Financial Crisis on 'Greed' and 'Lack of Regulation'

In the 10AM ET hour on NBC's Today on Monday, co-host Kathie Lee Gifford applauded the new HBO movie on the 2008 financial crisis, 'Too Big to Fail,' as "not a partisan film at all." However, after asserting that "It didn't take one side or the other," she touted the liberal moral of the story: "that greed is what got us there and lack of regulation."

Left-wing actor Ed Asner, who plays the role of billionaire Warren Buffet, came on to promote the film: "...this movie is practically a study course. You go back and learn each time that you watch it....you become involved and very informed..." He added that the "tragedy" of the crisis "has not been repaired yet." Gifford agreed: "No, it certainly hasn't. Everything's still in place for it to happen again."

After Gifford gave her two thumbs up for the film, fellow co-host Hoda Kotb noted one of Asner's other projects, a stage performance in which he plays President Franklin Roosevelt. Asner explained why he enjoyed that role: "I love it. I love it because I love that president. I think he was such a great president. And I think this country has not done him enough honor."

Here is a transcript of the segment:

10:30AM ET

KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: We're back on this fun day Monday with the legendary actor Ed Asner. And while he's accomplished in so many ways, and he'll tell you so, he will always be so many – to us he will always be Lou Grant, the gruff but loveable boss of the news room in the famed 1976 hit series 'The Mary Tyler Moore' show.

HODA KOTB: Who could ever forget that? And now in the HBO movie 'Too Big to Fail,' Ed takes us inside the financial crisis of 2008, portraying one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett. Take a look.

[CLIP FROM "TOO BIG TO FAIL"]

KOTB: Wow.

GIFFORD: Hoda and I both watched this over the weekend. It's so nice to see you, Ed. And, you know, it's such a complicated story to tell. And HBO does complicated stories very, very well. But I had my doubts. I was sitting in our little theater with a gentleman who was a top CEO, just retired. And it was interesting to get his take on it, because he knows that world better than-

KOTB: It becomes-

GIFFORD: And said it was spot-on.

KOTB: It becomes like a nail-biter while you're watching it. Now tell us about your thoughts on the film.

ASNER: Well I – it started, I got worried they wouldn't keep an audience because it's just too complicated. And then as it grew and whatever I understood was sufficient that it kept growing for me. And I realized that this movie is practically a study course. You go back and learn each time that you watch it. And I hope to see it a lot of times. But I think that you become involved and very informed and you're propelled forward by this, what I call tragedy. A tragedy, that as far as I'm concerned, has not been repaired yet.

GIFFORD: No, it certainly hasn't. Everything's still in place for it to happen again.

KOTB: Sure. And playing Warren Buffett, that's an interesting character. How did you go about preparing for that?

ASNER: I looked in the mirror. Put on the glasses.

[LAUGHTER]

KOTB: Because, you know, you're likeness was terrific.

GIFFORD: It really was. All of the casting. I mean the guy that plays Lloyd Blankfein, I thought Lloyd Blankfein was playing Lloyd Blankfein. I couldn't believe the casting, it was so well done.

ASNER: Isn't that the guy from 'Sex in the City'?

GIFFORD: I don't know.
                                    
KOTB: Yeah, yeah, the bald guy. Yeah.

GIFFORD: He looked just like Lloyd.

KOTB: The guy from 'Sex in the City.'

GIFFORD: Yeah, and I was – I appreciated particularly how it was not a partisan film.

ASNER: No.

GIFFORD: At all. It didn't take one side or the other, except for that greed is what got us there and lack of regulation.

ASNER: Yeah.

KOTB: In addition to this film, you're back on stage. You are playing Franklin Roosevelt. Tell us how that's going.

ASNER: It's going well. We've done 50 cities, 100 performances. I'll be opening in Boca Raton for a week in the first of June.

KOTB: Okay.

ASNER: And I love it. I love it because I love that president. I think he was such a great president. And I think this country has not done him enough honor.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC