GLENN: Well, there's a movie that came out with Will Smith and it is the Chris Gardner story. I talked to Chris about a year ago, I don't know if he remembers, before the movie came out. And I saw this movie over the weekend and my gosh, if you don't watch that movie and say to yourself, I've got to find those people, I want to help those people, how do I help these people. Bush came out while he was pardoning the turkey switch. Forget about Compean and Ramos, yeah, let's pardon the turkeys today, he said -- and I know this to be true, food prices have gone up and there is a shortage of food at shelters. I don't believe in the Government giving out handouts. I believe in us helping people. And please if you have been blessed with anything, please give to a homeless shelter or a food shelter. Please call the soup kitchens or the food banks in your area and please donate. There are a lot of hungry people and we're a very blessed nation. Help them out because there are amazing people that are trying to get back on their feet. And Chris Gardner was one of them. Chris?
by Chris Gardner
GLENN: Welcome to the program, sir.
GARDNER: Thank you for having me. How are you, sir?
GLENN: Very good. You are a hero. You really are an amazing guy. I saw "The Pursuit of Happyness" this weekend and I know that's old news for everybody else but I'm so busy I don't see movies anymore. And I watched that and my heart broke for you the whole time. For instance, the scene with you on the bathroom floor with your son, how much of that is real and was your life really like that?
GARDNER: Glenn, I have to tell you I cannot be more proud of the work that Will Smith, Jaden Smith and our director Gabriele Muccino did. That scene in that bathroom, too many nights, too many times, Glenn. Too many nights, too many times, that was the only place available. And that scene that Will and his son to create an alternative universe just for his child.
GLENN: Great. Oh, it was just great. You know, the thing that I kept, I haven't watched a movie that I agreed with. I mean, most movies in Hollywood do I agree with. So I scream at the TV. But I haven't watched a movie where I was so locked into the story that I was screaming at the TV, "Let him in." When you got to the shelter, you were clearly somebody who was trying to change their life and you had a son with you. Did you ever get to the point to where you're like, what are you doing; I am trying to change my life.
GARDNER: You know what, let me share something with you real brief about things you were mentioning earlier. 12 to 30% of the homeless people in this country, Glenn, have jobs and go to work every day. Working families homeless. We one day shot a scene in the film, we hired 250 homeless people, a day's work for a day's pay to be extras in the scene. A couple walks up to me and says, we want to thank you. We're both homeless but we've been both working. We've been living on the streets for six months. All we needed was another $500 to get a place to call home. We just made that $500 working on this movie; thank you. Glenn, think about that for a second.
GLENN: I know.
GARDNER: $70 million gets spent to make a movie. $500 got a family off the street.
GLENN: I will tell you that my family and I about a month ago, we went to a soup kitchen in the next town over from where we live, and I live in a very nice town and it was such a great experience. My kids were like, oh, my gosh, Dad, this poverty is right on our doorstep and you can get so isolated sometimes. And we went and there were a lot of people that you could tell working the system.
GLENN: Or just not doing anything or strung out on drugs or whatever. But my heart broke for the people that I could tell had been out busting their ass all day and when they came up, there were a lot of people that were like, come on, more, do you have any more? And you were kind of like, okay, well, hang on just a second. And other people would come up and they would ask politely and they would be -- you could tell that they were hungry from working so hard. And I thought to myself, how do you find those people? What would have helped you when you were living on the street.
GARDNER: Well, let me share another thing with you to that point. Before we began filming "Pursuit of Happyness", I took Will Smith for some walks. It was important to he and I that he see, smell and touch places my son and I had to live. My first year working on Wall Street, the very first night -- now, to his credit, Glenn, biggest movie star in the world cannot go anyplace without a four man security detail. Will says to me, no, it's just you and me, let's go.
GLENN: Hang on just a second. We're with Chris Gardner. He's the real life guy that "Pursuit of Happyness" was about. We're talking about homelessness and Thanksgiving and food and everything else. Hang on just a second. Be back in just a flash.
GLENN: I mean, Chris Gardner who is the real life guy from "The Pursuit of Happyness" is with us and I wanted to talk to him before Thanksgiving because I'm so grateful for what I have and I hope that we take a moment and just realize how much we all have and how we should share. I don't even have any idea how much that break cost me there on your hourly wage now. You are a guy who was absolutely living, you know, on the floor of bathrooms and now you have really made it. You said that when Will Smith, before you shot the movie, you took him to see and smell the places that you and your son had to live.
GARDNER: And the very first night we went down into the subway system, Will is such a bright guy, the first thing he says to me, Glenn, is a lot of these people look like they're dressed to go some place. Well, yeah, a lot of them were dressed to get up and go to work in the morning. Those are the people, Glenn, that I make every effort to do any and everything that I can.
GARDNER: 12 to 30% of all the homeless people in this country, Glenn, have jobs. Now, that's saying something.
GLENN: Right. But there's also another -- I mean, when you throw stats back and forth, there's also another stat that the average working poor in America only work 16 hours a week. Now, if you're somebody who can't work more because your physical disability or you're a single mom or whatever, I get that. I don't know how you did it, what you did with your son, but I so admire you for that. I want to help the people like that, but it's -- there are so many that just abuse the system and some people should fail if they just don't want to do it themselves, but people like you -- I'm telling you, Chris, I watched that movie and my heart went out to you and I mean, how do we find people like you?
GARDNER: Oh, let me tell you. Another -- not to just be throwing statistics around but one out of four homeless people in this country right now, Glenn, are veterans. You think about that for a second. You think about that for a second.
GARDNER: Everyone talks about we should support our troops and we should, Glenn. That's an honorable thing to do. What about when they come home?
GLENN: You should go back and listen to the Mon log I started the show with today. They have actually, our government has actually insisted that people who have lost their legs repay the signing bonus that they got when they joined.
GARDNER: Oh, Glenn. Oh, Glenn.
GLENN: It's shameful.
GARDNER: It is shameful and you know what, not just shame on the government, Glenn, shame on us as Americans for allowing that to happen.
GLENN: It's not going to happen.
GARDNER: Shame on us.
GLENN: As soon as it's exposed, and we talked about it today, help expose this, I mean, it will change because that's wrong.
GARDNER: You know what a young guy would say? Fine, you can have the bonus back. Give me my legs.
GLENN: I know, I know.
GARDNER: Give me just one of them. Give me one of them and we'll call it even.
GLENN: So you know what, instead of -- and America, please, please, I'm begging of you, please share your wealth. I have a philosophy that money is like rain and it's constantly coming down but you've got to -- the Lord gives you a bucket and he starts with a small bucket and if you try to protect the water that you're catching in that bucket, you're going to always have a small bucket and you'll not be able to get more rain into that bucket. But the minute you dump that water out, you'll find yourself with a bigger bucket and you have to understand it's all around you. All you have to do is share it with people. Please share this holiday season.
GARDNER: Please, Glenn. I thank you for bringing that out. We cannot, especially for these young men and women, Glenn, coming home. Missing limbs?
GLENN: I know.
GARDNER: We cannot let them get treated like this, that's not right.
GLENN: So Chris, let me focus here on the positive, your obvious belief that you didn't belong on the streets, that you had an obvious belief that you could do it and the system was not stacked against you; you could do whatever you set your mind to. Am I characterizing that accurately?
GARDNER: You know what, not just characterizing that accurately but that goes, Glenn, to one of the most important scenes in the film for me, the scene on the basketball court. As you saw it, it was not written that way. When the little boy says, "I'm going pro," it was written, the father says, "Don't ever say that, I was never any good at it. So if I couldn't do it, you can't do it." On that day, Glenn, I went to Will Smith on the set. We tore up the script and I told him, you cannot say that to that little boy because that's not what my mom told me. I was raised to believe that I could do or be anything I wanted to do or be and that goes to absolutely the heart, Glenn, of my next book. I'm doing a book now on spiritual genetics.
GLENN: Wow, what is that?
GARDNER: Well, we don't understand genetics, Glenn. You are going to get your mom's eyes, your dad's nose, nothing you can do about it. But the spirit of who you are going to become as a person, as a man or a woman, the soul of who you are going to become, I believe you can make a conscious choice to choose.
GLENN: You are the -- I mean, I'm telling you you are an idol of mine. I was just thinking this over the weekend. I was thinking about my patriot -- I so believe in this country. I so believe that anything can happen, that we are such a blessed people to be important at this time in this land and I thought, where did that really come from? And I thought about my upbringing with my parents and I realized that it was my parents, my father and my mother that really passed that on to me. And then I thought, wait a minute, my gosh, look at the pattern that I have done with my children and how we celebrate Fourth of July. It's different than most people. I'm passing it on to them. It is genetic.
GARDNER: It's spiritual genetics, brother, and we can all pass it on. And more importantly, young people, I stress you've got to choose to embrace the light. You can be beaten down by the darkness, you can succumb or submit to the darkness but you've got to choose that light. I'm going to share one thing with you, Glenn, that I don't talk about this a lot, but it is just very, very interesting to me. There's a young woman I'm familiar with. She and I are the same age, same Zodiac sign, went to the same elementary school and used to live a half a block from each other in one of the worth ghettos of the United States. There was nothing in our environment that said I was going to grow up to become Chris Gardner and she was going to grow up to become Oprah Winfrey. There was nothing in the environment. We both chose, Glenn. We chose and we worked and we committed.
GLENN: Chris, when are you coming to New York?
GARDNER: You know what, man, I'm in and out of New York City all the time. As a matter of fact, you are coming to a function with me. On December 5th in New York City I'm going to the glaucoma foundation. You come and be my guest. You be my guest and we'll make it happen as soon as we get off the phone.
GLENN: Chris, I would like to when you're in town, I would love to spend an hour with you and just let you preach this to America because this is something that is being lost in America and it is a belief in yourself and a belief in that you can do it and that you make all the difference in the world.
GARDNER: Absolutely, and you've got to believe it can happen and you can do it. And you know something, Glenn, my mama used to always say to me? She used to say, boy, the cavalry ain't coming.
GLENN: I love you. Chris Gardner, we'll talk to you again, sir. Thank you so much.