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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for April 7, 2000

Aired April 7, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: It's Friday, this is NEWSROOM. Welcome. I'm Andy Jordan.

RUDI BAHKTIAR, CO-HOST: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Here's a preview of today's show.

JORDAN: In today's top story, scientists get a step closer to mapping the genetic blueprint of humans.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Those bits of DNA called genes direct our cells. They determine whether our eyes are blue, our hair is brown, or our skin is black.


BAKHTIAR: Then, in our "Editor's Desk," how the great white way found its way Into American culture.


FRANK RICH, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: It's this crazy thing that this country concocted, largely in this century, where they mix drama, dance, music, high art, low art, comedy, tragedy, all of it is sort of stirred into the mix.


JORDAN: From performance art to plundered art. In today's "Worldview," art experts try to identify paintings stolen by the Nazis.


AMANDA KIBEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Art experts estimate the numbers of stolen works run into the millions.


BAKHTIAR: And, in "Chronicle," a Korean-born artist takes his message on the medium to the Guggenheim Museum.


JOHN HANHARDT, SR. CURATOR, GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM: Who really fundamentally transformed the electronic moving image of television into an artist's medium.


BAKHTIAR: In today's top story, an important step for mankind in mapping the human genetic code. A private company based in suburban Washington, D.C. says it has sequenced the genes of a human being. In this case, that means it's identified the chemicals in the human genome.

A genome is the total set of genes carried in a cell, contained within 23 pairs of X-shaped chromosomes.

Eileen O'Connor has more on the latest discovery inside the universe of our bodies.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): PE Celera Corporation has announced it's finished sequencing the genome of one of their six anonymous donors after only seven months. Celera's president Craig Ventor says his team will now focus on assembling the sequences into their proper order and studying genetic variations as they occur with the DNA of other donors they are sequencing.

It is those variations, Ventor says, that will lead scientists to new cures for countless diseases.

CRAIG VENTOR, PE CELERA CORPORATION: It's hard to fix an automobile engine without a manual. We're creating a manual for human rife.

O'CONNOR: Government scientists, using a different approach, assembling the sequences as they go, question the value of Celera's accomplishment. One says, what Celera has done is identify only the beginnings and endings of sentences in the book of life, not the actual story.

That story is the essence of human DNA, which is contained in the nucleus of each cell of the body, twisted within 46 chromosomes. Unravel those and you get a long double stranded thread: the DNA. Within that are 80,000 genes, specific sequences of four chemicals scientists have assigned letters to.

(on camera): Can it be just one of those little letters that can cause a disease?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just one of those differences. See that green "A" there? If that ended up being a blue peak of a "C," that could be contributing to the cause of a disease or the difference between having dark hair versus having no hair.

O'CONNOR (voice-over): The chemicals tell the cell which proteins to make. It's those proteins that determine what a cell will be, what it will do, and how well it will do it. In other words, those bits of DNA Called genes direct our cells. They determine whether our eyes are blue, our hair is brown, or our skin is black, or whether we will get certain illnesses.

Determining which genes do what and how they do it will lead scientists to understand how to alter a gene that causes disease, thus preventing it in the first place.

Francis Collins directs the government project.

FRANCIS COLLINS, DIR., GOVERNMENT GENOME PROJECT: If I knew I was at risk for colon cancer or heart disease, there are things you can do about that, and this leads you then towards an individualized plan of preventive medicine.

O'CONNOR: He questions how Celera will now read what it has written. Ventor admits the value of his sequencing lies in the translation.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.


BAKHTIAR: Although the work still has to go through the typical scientific peer review process, the potential of this research is tremendous.

Rhonda Rowland looks at that angle.


RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Can we detect disease even before birth and cure it before it develops? Can we reverse the debilitating consequences of illness? Those are the questions scientists hope to answer, the ultimate payoff to understanding our genetic blueprint.

COLLINS: The future implications of this for the practice of medicine in both diagnostics and therapeutics are truly remarkable. You will not recognize the medicine that is practiced in 20 or 30 years.

ROWLAND: Already the identification of particular genes is leading to new therapies. Three years ago, doctors used a gene that grows new blood vessels to save Katie Ryan's (ph) right leg. An experimental drug made from that gene overcame the atherosclerosis that had cost her, her left leg.

Researchers are now testing that same gene therapy in heart patients.

DR. JEFFREY ISNER, ST. ELIZABETH'S MEDICAL CENTER: It appeared to be safe. Now most of the patients got better. Most of the patients were able to exercise longer.

ROWLAND: Scientists are also attempting to fix broken genes. They're injecting copies of good genes into patients with defective genes, patients with diseases like hemophilia and muscular dystrophy.

There are still a number of scientific hurdles to cross -- Is it safe? Is it effective? -- before any gene therapy experiment can become part of routine care.

DR. FRENCH ANDERSON, DIRECTOR, GENE THERAPY PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Gene therapy will revolutionize the practice of medicine. It will -- not in the next five or even 10 years. But it will ultimately cure cancer, heart disease, AIDS, genetic diseases. It is the hope for the future.

ROWLAND: To reach that future goal, scientists also need to learn how genes, or sequences of genes, interact to cause disease. In some cases, the action of these genes may only be triggered by the environment. Once that complex interaction is understood and effective therapies are developed, the future vision of medicine may be achieved.

(on camera): The complete mapping of the human genome is expected in two years. Many researchers predict that's when the real work can begin. But each step along the way represents possibility: possibility for curing diseases and radically changing the way medicine is practiced.

Rhonda Rowland, CNN, Atlanta.


BAKHTIAR: For more on the quest to track our genetic building blocks, dig into your NEWSROOM archives and check out our March 15 story on the Human Genome Project.

JORDAN: The saga of Cuban Elian Gonzalez heads into a new chapter, with the arrival of his father in the United States. The odyssey is over four months old, and began in Cuba, when Elian's mother decided to head to the U.S. by boat. She did not survive the trip. He did.

While Miami relatives want Elian to stay, his father arrived in Washington yesterday to try to bring him back.


JUAN MIGUEL GONZAELZ, ELIAN'S FATHER (through translator): As if his mother's disappearance before his eyes and the miracle of his survival had not inflicted enough damage on a 5 years old boy, he has had to spend time under the temporary custody of some distant relatives who had never seen him before.


JORDAN: Those Miami relatives are appealing a U.S. government decision to return Elian to his father. Talks between them broke down with no agreement Thursday.

"South Pacific" is just one in a long line of shows. There's "Rent," there's "The Lion King," "Miss Saigon," and one of my all time favorites "The Phantom of the Opera," and that's only a few. Broadway plays have a long and lavish history. And the productions aren't confined to just the bright lights of Broadway. These days, touring companies take the shows across the United States and around the world.

Today in our "Editor's Desk," Cynthia Tornquist spotlights the evolution of the musical.


CYNTHIA TORNQUIST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George M. Cohan first sang this tune in the 1904 production "Little Johnny Jones." Now, as we begin a new millennium, many still give their regards to Broadway and the American musical.

The Broadway musical descended from a variety of forms of entertainment popular during the 1800s: the comic opera of Gilbert and Sullivan; Florenz Ziegfeld's follies revues, and the vaudeville of Harrigan and Hart. From this hodgepodge came Broadway, named for the street where it began.

FRANK RICH, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: It's this crazy thing that this country concocted, largely in this century, where they mix drama, dance, music, high art, low art, comedy, tragedy, all of it is sort of stirred into the mix.

TORNQUIST: It came about literally by accident. In 1866, the Academy of Music in New York burned down, leaving a ballet company without a stage. When a rival theater on lower Broadway invited the dancers to join them in a drama called "The Black Crook," the American musical was born.

However, the potential of what the musical could achieve wasn't felt until the 1920s. That's when songwriters Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein wrote "Showboat." It was later adapted into a film.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (singing): You get a little drunk and you land in jail.


HAROLD PRINCE, BROADWAY PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: It was about racial issues, it was about alcoholism. It was about so many issues that the theater had never touched on.

RICH: George and Ira Gershwin took the next step after "Showboat" in elevating the American musical to a kind of seriousness of intention that hadn't existed before. And, of course, I refer to "Porgy & Bess." TORNQUIST: Broadway attracted the best songwriters -- Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein. People couldn't wait to hear their latest tunes.

CY COLEMAN, COMPOSER: But aside from how to integrate the music into the story, you also wrote songs that could be popular. So it was a question of a double purpose.

TORNQUIST: However, Broadway found a rival: talking pictures. Broadway stars like Eddie Cantor headed to Hollywood to do movies such as "Whoopee!" Songwriters followed.

(on camera): The movie musical drastically reduced the number of Broadway musicals. Only 32 opened during the 1929-30 theater season, as compared to the 50 or so that opened in previous years.

(voice-over): However, some songwriters still called Broadway home. In 1943, composer Richard Rodgers paired with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein.

This rare footage features performances taken from their original productions, "Carousel"...


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (singing): On a night like this I start to wonder...


TORNQUIST: ... "South Pacific"...


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (singing): ... wash that man right out of her hair and send him on his way.


TORNQUIST: ... "The King and I."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (singing): There are not many facts of which I wish I was more certain, I was sure.


TORNQUIST: The next innovation came with "Oklahoma."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR (singing): Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.


TORNQUIST: It dropped the conventional big opening number, and Agnes de Mille's work ushered in a new era for choreography.

TOMMY TUNE, CHOREOGRAPHER/DANCER: Before, it was just decoration if it was in. If you wanted to cut the dance for the night, no one would know. Then it became so important to the story-telling that without it you couldn't tell the musical.

TORNQUIST: In 1957, it was Jerome Robbins who conceived "West Side Story" for the stage and later film. He used dance to convey a degree of violence that had never been seen on Broadway before.

CHITA RIVERA, BROADWAY ACTRESS: We also danced it and sang it, which was an easier way to get the subject in your lap or in your head so that you would understand what's wrong with our society.

TORNQUIST: Robbin's use of dance inspired other director- choreographers, such as Gower Champion, Bob Fosse, Tommy Tune and Michael Bennett. "West Side Story" also introduced a new talent: songwriter Stephen Sondheim.

Sondheim began as a lyricist for "West Side Story," but his ground-breaking work as a composer and lyricist of "Company," with producer-director Harold Prince, created a new form.

PRINCE: And that is the anti-linear show, the show where the plot isn't what counts but the characters do.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS (singing): Aquarius.


TORNQUIST: Rock'n'roll finally got to Broadway in 1967 with the musical "Hair."

RICH: Broadway had never really known what to do about rock music, and all its composers were continuing to write in the same style they'd always written in. But Broadway was losing audiences to a new generation that had no interest in the music of their parents.

TORNQUIST: With the exception of shows like "Rent," rock'n'roll has yet to catch on on Broadway.

"Jesus Christ Superstar" in 1971 introduced the sung-through musical and was the beginning of what critics called the British invasion.

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, COMPOSER: I mean, they just happened to be musicals that happened to catch on. There isn't -- there was no real, actual invasion of Brits.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (singing): Memories, all alone in the moonlight...


TORNQUIST: Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the king of the British musical, with productions of "Cats," "Evita," and "The Phantom of the Opera."

WEBBER: Here we are at the millennium. You actually look at the writers who still consistently having shows on Broadway, they tend to be the same people who they were all those years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS (singing): One singular sensation, every little step she takes.


TORNQUIST: In 1975, producer Joseph Papp and director- choreographer Michael Bennett struck a bittersweet and brilliant chord with a musical about the Great White Way called "A Chorus Line."

TUNE: And it was like the equivalent of cinema verite. It was a documentary musical.

TORNQUIST: In the mid-1980s, scenery became the star. There appears to be plenty of corporate dollars for the spectacles, but creative people worry where Broadway's future product will come from in the new millennium.

PRINCE: Right this minute is the most dangerous period, the one where we must make a transition to the next generation of composers, lyricists, and directors and so on. And we haven't quite made it.



UNIDENTIFIED SINGER (singing): Give my regards to old Broadway and say that I'll be there ere long.


TORNQUIST: Cynthia Tornquist, CNN Entertainment News, New York.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, seen in schools around the world, because learning never stops, and neither does the news.

BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview" today, we enter the world of art. But it's the underworld, a place where masterminds remove masterpieces from their rightful owners. Stolen art is in the spotlight. Our stories take us to Europe and Asia, to Thailand and Cambodia, Germany and Great Britain. Find out what's missing and how museums hope to track down the treasures. TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Over the years, museums have been plagued by accusations that their collections contain artwork stolen from Jews and others during Germany's Nazi regime, which ended with the World War II in 1945. Germany's postwar government has made efforts to identify plundered artwork stolen by the Nazis. Now, British museums are scouring their collections for Nazi art and have issued a list of 350 paintings and drawings which they say have suspect origins. The list includes paintings by artists as famous as Picasso. For years, many Holocaust survivors and the children of those who did not survive have been searching for their lost art. Now, they may have another chance of finding it.

Amanda Kibel reports.


AMANDA KIBEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been called the greatest art theft in history. According to the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, nearly one fifth of all the art treasures in the world and a third of all art in private collections across Europe was stolen by Hitler's Nazi regime, stolen from Jews and non-Jews alike during the second world war. Art experts estimate the numbers of stolen works run into the millions.

When the Allies liberated Europe from the Germans, they found more than 2,000 caches of stolen works in Germany alone. Some pieces were returned to their origin, thousands of others remain missing. Now, in an effort to trace some of these pieces and return them to the rightful owners, British museums and galleries have published a list. The list of art details pieces now hanging on gallery walls that may once have been stolen.

ANNE WEBBER, COMMISSION FOR LOOTED ART IN EUROPE: The British have already taken great steps to do all this work. It's very important because, for 50 years, families have been looking for the works of art that were stolen from them by the Nazis.

KIBEL: In all, 350 paintings and drawings are described as having uncertain provenance, meaning their origins and history are unclear. The museums are quick to point out this does not mean the works were stolen. On the list, priceless paintings by Picasso, Monet, and Cezanne. But famous paintings make up only a small proportion of all of the missing art. Many looted pieces have less financial value, but huge emotional and sentimental worth.

WEBBER: They were taken from families under the most brutal and terrifying circumstances and the works are not -- they're not just pictures. They're -- I mean, they're not impersonal. They're pictures that hung on the walls of homes that were destroyed, of lives that were destroyed.

KIBEL: While British museums have resorted to publishing lists, other searchers must rely on vague childhood memories or secondhand accounts from families of the dead.

(on camera): The great tragedy of the stolen art, say art experts, is that much of it will never be returned. Many of the owners died in the Holocaust, and survivors, many of them children when the art was taken, are unlikely to live long enough to see their family's paintings again.

Amanda Kibel, CNN, London.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: More stolen art, but this time it's on its way back home. We head to Asia for our next story. Art which was recently taken from Cambodia and smuggled into neighboring Thailand is being returned to its country of origin, but first it was exhibited in Thailand at the National Museum for the entire month of March.

That exhibit provided a glimpse of ancient artifacts, as Karuna Shinsho explains.


KARUNA SHINSHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These pieces of stone are from an ancient temple built at the end of the 12th century in northwest Cambodia. They were stolen last year from the sanctuary and found abandoned in a truck parked in Thailand, some 25 kilometers from the border with Cambodia.

KAMTHORNTHEP KRATAITHONG, BANGKOK NATL. MUSEUM (through translator): There are 122 pieces of a whole wall. There are three other pieces: the head of a goddess image, a stone with Khmer inscriptions, and the deity Vishnu riding on a mythical creature, the garuda.

SHINSHO: Finding stolen artworks like these in Thailand is nothing new. Gangs of bandits, often with the help of army soldiers, get such artifacts across the border to antique shops around Bangkok. Buddha heads in particular are popular and can fetch several thousand dollars from a collector. Though security has been tightened at the border to stem the smuggling, experts say current lax laws must change and governments should be committed.

KRATAITHONG (through translator): The smuggling of antiques is a serious problem, and it can only be solved by high-ranking officials in both Cambodia and Thailand.

SHINSHO: But in the meantime, the museum hopes to increase people's knowledge of Khmer civilization, which spans hundreds of years, through art. The artworks in this exhibit are in fairly good condition. These pieces make up a temple wall and have been numbered to make it easy to put together. But they're heavy. With the help of a forklift and lots of manpower, they're assembled with relative ease. Photos of these structures before they were stolen are also used to verify their composition.

Experts say part of the popularity of Khmer art is in the details of stone sculptures like these and how they display both the human as well as the powerful qualities of Khmer civilization. But they say that if the plundering of Cambodia's historical sites remain unchecked, there will soon be nothing left to showcase the country's ancient past.

Karuna Shinsho, CNN.


JORDAN: Well, when you think of art, you're probably used to thinking in two dimensions -- some canvas, a frame, perhaps. But this is the year 2000. Let's get with the program. Well, we try here on NEWSROOM with our funky digital camera angles. And whether or not this is art is probably not quite clear. But it makes a statement: We're hip, right?

Well, in "Chronicle" today, a man who's probably a bit more qualified to make art out of video. And his statement, say some critics, is the future of hip.

Phil Hirschkorn has his story.


PHIL HIRSCHKORN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York's Guggenheim Museum has been transformed into a high-tech television and laser studio. The rotunda is filled with a seven-story laser waterfall called "Jacob's Ladder" cascading downward. The ceiling is an electronic canvass for a colorful laser painting entitled "Sweet and Sublime," the floor a field of video monitors displaying rapidly changing images. It's part of the world of Nam June Paik, a Korean- born pioneer of video art who represents, in the museum's view, a future direction for art.

JOHN HANHARDT, SR. CURATOR, GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM: Nam June Paik is the artist who really fundamentally transformed the electronic moving image of television into an artist's medium. He really invented the instruments, created the tools for an artist to make a new kind of moving image.

HIRSCHKORN: Twenty years before MTV existed, Paik played with video images, fusing them with quick editing, adding music. His installations can dazzle you and make you think twice about the power of television. A row of 50 fish tanks curves up a museum ramp, an aquarium like you've never seen: real fish moving in front of moving pictures. A camera points at another live fish tank, displaying the reproduced image right next to it. Which one holds your attention, the real thing or the recreation? A camera aimed at a grandfather clock seems to make the ticking change direction, at least on a monitor. Would a serene Buddha be immune to the mesmerizing effect of TV or would he be mesmerized by seeing himself on screen?

(on camera): The work of Nam June Paik shows how the video camera and television have reshaped our perception of reality. Paik is concerned with how our steady diet of mediated images has numbed our connection with nature.

(voice-over): His TV garden is a metaphor for our natural environment cluttered by electronic pictures and sound.

NAM JUNE PAIK, ARTIST: The substitute becomes the reality.

HIRSCHKORN: Paik, not as active since he suffered a stroke four years ago, says he's not against technology.

PAIK: Not bad, but we have room to improve.

HIRSCHKORN: Improve it by learning how to interact better with it. In Paik's hands, sound becomes a visual design and the television itself becomes sculpture.

HANHARDT: He really wanted to open up the container of television. He wanted to make it into a plastic artist's medium. He wanted to reinvent television as a place for artists to create a new kind of performance.

HIRSCHKORN: A performance that helps us see our world in a new way; a world where the moon is the oldest TV, but TV now lights up the night.

Phil Hirschkorn, CNN NEWSROOM, New York City.


JORDAN: Well, one word: electric.

BAKHTIAR: Yes, interesting, I thought.

JORDAN: Good stuff.

BAKHTIAR: A lot of television.

JORDAN: We're ready for the weekend. We'll see you back here Monday.




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