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'Akeelah and the Bee': Small Movie, Big Heart

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," April 25, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: "Akeelah and the Bee" is an extraordinary film about a girl trying to make it to the National Spelling Bee with the help of her entire neighborhood. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURENCE FISHBURNE: Prestidigitation, can you spell it?

KEKE PALMER: P-R-E-S-T-I-D-I-G-I-T-A-T-I-O-N, Prestidigitation.

FISHBURNE: That's correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: The stars of "Akeelah and the Bee," Laurence Fishburne and Keke Palmer sat down with us to talk about the film that opens this Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FISHBURNE: When I read the script, I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the characters. I fell in love with the story. I fell in love with just the setting, where the movie took place, the community in which we get immersed as we're the audience watching this little girl's journey.

And I knew that it was something that I wanted to do but I also knew that it was going to be incredibly difficult to get it made because of the nature of the story. This story is one that is led. This young lady carries this movie and carries this movie brilliantly. There are not a whole lot of movies that are carried by, you know, pre-adolescent African American girls.

VAN SUSTEREN: How did you learn how to do this?

KEKE PALMER: I don't think. I (INAUDIBLE) movie. You know my mom and dad made sure I didn't feel like, you know, I was carrying the movie. I mean Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne both were in the movie.

I mean they made sure, you know, I felt like I was, you know, just part of the movie like them, you know, not carrying the film, so I wouldn't feel too much pressure and I didn't. When I did the movie, I just, you know, went in there and did my scenes I mean.

FISHBURNE: Yes, we had a lot of fun working.

PALMER: Yes, we did.

FISHBURNE: We just kind of kept it light and loose. I mean Keke has enormous talent and great intelligence and instincts as an actress, so it wasn't about, you know, you know, let's bring the kid along. I mean she knows what she's doing. She's capable and we all kind of just played.

PALMER: (INAUDIBLE) a good actress.

VAN SUSTEREN: And it's (INAUDIBLE) I'd say it's exciting.

FISHBURNE: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean the movie is actually exciting, you know.

FISHBURNE: It really is.

PALMER: Yes, and it has all the things, you know, that's the one thing that Doug (ph) actually, you know, the director and writer, he wanted to put out there. This movie is not just about spelling and it's not just about, you know, what you -- it's not just a feel good movie but it's fun to watch. I mean it's like a sports game, like you just said, you know. You're on the edge of your seat. You're really into this. It made you like, you know, who's going to win? You're rooting for people.

FISHBURNE: Yes.

PALMER: This is what it's all about. It's about that and it's also about making you feel and making you believe you can do anything.

VAN SUSTEREN: Laurence, you know, there should be more roles for African Americans. What's that problem? Why can't we seem to get off the dime and get some more roles?

FISHBURNE: I'm not exactly sure what the root cause of the problem is but I do know that movies like this are part of the solution. I do know that if people go to see this movie on the first weekend that it will register with the powers that be in Hollywood-land who make the decisions about what gets made.

And, if a lot of people turn out and this movie does very well on its opening weekend, then that creates room for other people to go, "Hey, maybe we should think about making these kinds of movies. Maybe we can look for this kind of material."

I think the most important thing that we could do is to create more roles for African American women and women of color in general on the screen I think are sadly under represented. I think the men are faring very well but I would love to see more roles for women, African American women and women of color in general.

VAN SUSTEREN: Laurence, this movie is getting a ton of press but it's also interesting what Starbucks has done.

FISHBURNE: Yes. Starbucks has decided to promote this movie. It's the first time that they've decided to do that. Yes, they had music in their stores for a while, so now they're going to do movies and they've started with "Akeelah and the Bee" because they've got a literacy initiative they want to push.

So, when you go into Starbucks there are flash cards from "Akeelah and the Bee" and they have like a winning word from a National Spelling Bee all the way from the beginning all the way up to today.

They have a Web site. You open your computer and, boom, the "Akeelah and the Bee" site pops up. They have flash cards in the windows and it's really, really made a difference in terms of awareness and making people aware of this movie and how wonderful it is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: This is a fabulous movie. You must go to it. And, Laurence Fishburne and Keke Palmer will be the guests of FOX News this weekend at the White House correspondents' dinner in Washington, D.C.

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