26 Hours in Jordan: Charlie Rose’s Interview with King Abdullah II

By Merrill Knox 

“CBS This Morning” executive producer Chris Licht was on vacation in San Diego last Friday when he got a call: Charlie Rose had secured an interview with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

By Saturday evening, Licht and Rose — along with producer Paige Kendig and a crew, who had arrived earlier to prepare — were in Amman.

Rose, who has interviewed King Abdullah several times before, had a long-standing interview request in with him. “It was one of those things where the timing didn’t work out, and didn’t work out, and then all of a sudden it did,” Licht tells TVNewser.

After spending more than an hour interviewing the King, the group boarded a Jordanian army helicopter and flew to the Jordan-Syria border to a refugee camp which opened less than two weeks ago. The crew was allowed to shoot with no restrictions, Licht said, although many of the refugees shielded their faces from the camera out of fear for the safety of their families back in Syria.

“Going from this palace to the middle of nowhere —  it’s the desert, the wind is blowing, there’s sandstorms — just a horrible, rough, environment,” Licht said. “And there’s these thousands and thousands and thousands of refugees who’ve left Syria because they fear for their lives.”

“It’s a muscle that I haven’t seen Charlie flex, and to see him out in the field and in his element was great,” Licht added. “It was a totally different side of him.”

All told, Licht and Rose were on the ground in Jordan for 26 hours. The crew fed footage from Jordan to the CBS bureau in London, where portions of the interview were edited and aired less than six hours later, on Sunday’s “CBS Evening News.”

Portions have also aired on “CBS This Morning,” and Rose devoted the full hour of his PBS show to it. CBS also allowed the interview to air in full on Jordanian television.

In a business where big interviews are often booked and prepped months in advance, Licht called it “pretty incredible to see, in less than a week, something like that come together.”

Watch Rose’s report from the refugee camp: