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NEWSROOM for February 9, 2001Aired February 9, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Our Friday show is full of good stuff. Here's a look at what's ahead.
The U.S. president's tax plan heads to Congress. We'll have reaction to that in our top story.
Then we'll tune into the Armed Forces Network in "Editor's Desk."
Next, "Worldview" travels to an Asian nation making a big splash in an international beauty pageant.
And finally, we sit down with filmmaker Spike Lee.
U.S. President Bush sends his tax cut plan to Congress. Lawmakers now have in their hands the centerpiece of the new Bush presidency: massive, across-the-board tax cuts. And Mr. Bush wants the cuts retroactive to the first of the year.
The president is playing the economy card, urging Congress to follow his lead and act without delay because of the slowing economy. The price tag for the plan: $1.6 trillion over 10 years. A little less than half of that would account for an across-the-board rate cut and the creation of four new lower tax brackets versus the current five. The new ones would be 10, 15, 25 and 33 percent.
The president also proposes abolishing estate taxes, reducing the so-called marriage penalty, and doubling the child tax credit to $1,000.
But there's disagreement over who will benefit the most under the plan. While Democrats say the cuts will favor the wealthy, the president says, under his plan, the average family of four would save $1,600 a year.
As we mentioned, just who would benefit from the Bush tax cut plan and how much is up for debate; specifically on Capitol Hill, which is already divided along party lines, and even within the party.
Jonathan Karl has reaction from the Hill.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Republican tax cutters, happy days are here again.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER: Today, we've reached a great tax milestone in this country. After years of waiting, we finally have received an honest-to-goodness tax relief proposal from the White House.
KARL: Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill formally presented the president's plan to a Congress ready to cut taxes but divided on how much to cut. Even before the president's plan reached Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders posed with a borrowed car to make a point about the tax cut.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: If you're a millionaire, under the Bush tax cut you get a $46,000 tax cut, more than enough to pay for this Lexus. But if you're a typical working person, you get $227 and that's enough to buy this muffler.
KARL: While Democratic leaders wage their daily attacks on the Bush plan, they still aren't united on their own, and a Democratic alternative isn't expected until the end of the month at the earliest.
Republicans are divided too, between House conservatives who say the tax cut is too small and moderates in the Senate who say it is too big.
SEN. JIM JEFFORDS (R), VERMONT: Right now, the size of it I think is too high, so I would vote to cut it.
President Bush has highlighted the stories of middle class families who would benefit from a tax cut. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, with a Congressional salary of $161,200, cited the story of a different family: his own.
REP. RICHARD ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: We were profoundly effected by the understanding that the government is taking too much of our money. And my wife made the observation they didn't need it as much as we did.
KARL (on camera): Republicans are privately talking to a handful of Democrats they hope will soon come out in favor of the president's tax cut. This is especially critical in the Senate, where Republicans acknowledge they need at least a few Democratic votes to get the president's plan passed.
Jonathan Karl, CNN, Capitol Hill.
BAKHTIAR: From paying taxes to paying for power. California is still battling high energy costs, but temporary relief came Thursday when a federal judge ordered three out-of-state power suppliers to extend the sale of power to customers in the Golden State despite fears they won't be paid. Meantime, Gov. Gray Davis is appealing to California businesses to stay put during the statewide crisis.
Rusty Dornin reports.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fires, floods and earthquakes. While business-hungry states don't usually capitalize on California's calamities, the energy crisis has sparked some to make a power play. Tennessee has plenty of cheap reliable energy, so why not remind California companies of that with a gimmicky mailer?
ALEX FISCHER, TENN. ECONOMIC DEVEL. DEPT.: That the lights are always on in Tennessee. And you open it up and it's a flashlight asking companies that, the next time the lights go out in California, to use this flashlight to find their way to Tennessee.
DORNIN: Silicon Valley companies have voracious appetites for uninterrupted energy. So when Gene Winter went calling at a high-tech conference to attract business to Richmond, Virginia, he capitalized on it.
GENE WINTER, GREATER RICHMOND PARTNERSHIP: Have you had any problem here in the San Jose area with the power?
DORNIN: He, too, took a flashlight as a prop.
WINTER: It helps convey the message that things here are a little bit unstable at times.
DORNIN: Utah has plenty of cheap coal to make energy, something the state's governor wanted to impress upon Silicon Valley executives last week.
GOV. MIKE LEAVITT (R), UTAH: I think you can, as a Utah company, or a Silicon Valley company with a Utah operation, rest with some certainty that at least we will have electric power.
DORNIN: Recruiters say they don't want to steal businesses, but would like to pirate any new expansion. Recently, Intel announced it would not expand in California because of the power crisis. While an exodus of high-tech companies might not be at hand, a halt to further expansion is not good news for the state.
PAUL SALDANA, TULARE CO. ECONOMIC DEV.: Those are sending a very strong message to Sacramento that this needs to get resolved quickly and decisively and not get dragged on.
DORNIN: eBay, the online auction house, already has facilities in Utah. And energy has become a selling point.
SCOTT NEWMAN, EBAY: You know, power might be a consideration, but it wouldn't be the only one.
DORNIN (on camera): But state officials fear it is one that could unplug the expansion of the world's sixth largest economy.
Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.
ANNOUNCER: CNN viewer Joe Park of Ridgewood, New Jersey asks CNN, what are the pros and cons of energy deregulation?
LAWRENCE J. MAKOVICH, CAMBRIDGE ENERGY RESEARCH ASSOCIATES: The pros of deregulation are quite simply to unleash competitive forces to attack some of the inefficiencies we've built up over 50 to 70 years of regulation in the business.
The production and distribution of power is quite a complicated technology. And so it's not quite as easy to set up a market in the power business as it is in many other industries.
So I think the cons of deregulation are you run a very important risk that you can set these markets up incorrectly and things can go wrong, as they have in California, for example.
BAKHTIAR: Last month, we brought you "To Serve a Nation," a special examining the trials and triumphs of young people serving in the U.S. military. We learned maintaining a strong national defense involves many elements, from combat readiness and implementing technology to feeding and housing troops.
But entertainment is also important to the moral of troops.
Paul Vercammen brings us this report on a network helping to bring a little taste of home to the front lines.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's no glamorous nickname for this low-rise broadcast center outside Riverside, but this network can show Leno and Letterman back-to-back to a million viewers from Albania to Zimbabwe.
LARRY MAROTTA, PROGRAMMER, ARMED FORCES TV: This is a showcase of American television. And what we do is we operate as if we were a general store in town. We can't have a lot of different sizes and different brands of products, but we have to serve every customer who walks in the door with something.
VERCAMMEN: Armed Forces Network, AFN, as they call it at March Air Force Base headquarters, broadcasts to 160 countries and territories and Navy ships.
COL. RAY SHEPHERD, COMMANDER, AFRTS BROADCAST CTR.: The perfect example: New Delhi. We're able via the American embassy in New Delhi were the Marines are located, we're able to broadcast in there. And oftentimes, we're their only contact with America.
VERCAMMEN: Or in, let's say, Korea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It keeps us going as far as up here, because we have nothing to do.
UNIDENTIFIED RADIO ANNOUNCER: It's time for today's edition of "America's MusicMakers"
VERCAMMEN: The modernized Armed Forces Radio also allows soldiers to tune into the States, with 11 different channels from this broadcast center.
STAFF SGT. TONY CASTRO, RADIO BROADCAST PRODUCER: We have the best that you can get in possible programming: everything from country to R&B to Hot AC, top 40 programming.
VERCAMMEN: The center airs three separate television channels: Entertainment, AFN Newsports, and AFN Spectrum, with children's and education fare. The military does not pay performance rights or residuals under agreements with entertainment programmers and unions.
(on camera): Here at Armed Forces Television, they do not have to go through the agonizing process of trying out new shows that could be on the brink of being canceled. Everything broadcast from here has already been seen by the world's largest test audience: American television viewers.
(voice-over): While AFN won't broadcast edgy shows, such as "The Sopranos" or "Sex in the City," it will air the "Drew Carey Show"...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "DREW CAREY SHOW")
DREW CAREY, ACTOR: I'm a middle-aged cafeteria worker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERCAMMEN: ... "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Frasier" on the same channel, same night, no ratings headaches.
MAROTTA: We have all hits, so they're really -- we know our share is going to be 100.
SHEPHERD: If you take the example of a comedy show or an entertainment program that's going on, not only do you get to see American culture, but you get to see what's -- what the vernacular is, what the latest jokes are. That way you don't feel so far away from home.
VERCAMMEN: Who knew the precious link home comes from this unassuming satellite cluster a half world away.
Paul Vercammen, CNN Entertainment News, Riverside, California.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BAKHTIAR: What do Japan, India and Italy have in common? They're all part of our cultural kaleidoscope and "Worldview." We'll explore the opera and a singing sensation from Italy. And we'll head to India, a mecca of beauty pageant winners. Plus, an eye-striking artform in Japan.
We journey to Japan, an island country in the North Pacific Ocean. This economic giant is also known for its art; particularly its distinctive music, traditional Japanese dramas and puppet theater, and artistic scrolls. In addition, Japan is famous for its ceramics, silk weaving and lacquerware, and it's a leading producer of motion pictures.
But today we look at a different and unusual bit of Japanese culture.
Karuna Shinsho waxes artistic in this report.
KARUNA SHINSHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His work can seem, well, a bit creepy, but the effect is like magic. Toru Matsuzaki is a master of his art. He's made nearly a thousand wax figures which are on display in museums across Asia. The heads of several famous people sit in his workshop waiting for features to be added to make them complete. But it is a slow process taking about three months to finish a single figure.
TORU MATSUZAKI, WAX ARTIST (through translator): If possible, I take a life mask of the person and then measurements of the bone structure. Using this, I make a clay model of the head and then plaster mold. Then the hot wax is poured into the mold. And when it hardens, the fake eyes, false teeth and real human hair is implanted on the surface.
SHINSHO: Matsuzaki takes the time to carve out every wrinkle and add every freckle. He then sews clothing on to make a completely lifelike figure. Many of his creations are of famous movie stars from the past and present. And often his works are used for special effects in film.
But he isn't limited to creating likenesses of famous people from the world of entertainment. He's currently working on a collection of wax figures of the Japanese imperial Family, which is to go on display in a museum in Japan. Eerily, the late Japanese Emperor Hirohito now sits in the middle of his workshop patiently awaiting completion of the figure of the current emperor.
Karuna Shinsho, CNN.
SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Our next story takes us to India, one of the most populous countries in the world. The economy of this Asian nation is based mainly on agriculture, but it's making a name for itself in beauty pageants and competitions around the world. India, it seems, is turning out winner after winner.
And while that's fueling the dreams and imaginations of many young women, it's also feeding into health problems and issues, as Sohasini Hedar (ph) reports.
SOHASINI HEDAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Homecoming for yet another international beauty queen from India. Priyanka Chopra (ph) has recently been crowned Miss World, another Indian woman to win an international beauty pageant. It's encouraging thousands of young Indian women to train and groom themselves for the Miss India contest.
ROHINI TEWARI, MODEL: I found myself watching Miss India. I remember telling my mother standing in front of the mirror, all looking pretty and telling her, you know, one day I'm going to be there, and you'll see me win the crown.
HEDAR: She says the title means power, money and a lot of glamour.
LARA DUTTA, MISS UNIVERSE 2000: In the last two months, I've visited 13 countries, met with prime ministers, presidents, heads of state, dignitaries. And it's an incredible experience, because what I will do in this one year will take an ordinary man about 10 years in his life to see and do.
HEDAR: It's an experience that's spawning a new generation of young beauty queen wannabes. They're willing to do a lot for that dream, working out several hours a day, eating very little, even going through cosmetic surgery for that perfect 10 body.
ACHAL BHAGAT, PSYCHOLOGIST: It is a generation totally focusing on the way their legs are, the way their noses are, the way their eyes are.
HEDAR: And the way they want to look is getting thinner and thinner. One survey showed that half of all young schoolgirls in Delhi are on a diet, and doctors say they see more cases of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia everyday.
Expectedly, the number of girls that apply for the Miss India contest each year has doubled in the last five years to over 6,000 applicants in the last contest.
The main reason for the increase, say organizers, is that, in recent years, a significant number of Indian women have won international titles, like Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss Asia- Pacific, and Mrs. World. In the year 2000, India became the only country to ever win all four, sort of like the Grand Slam in tennis.
And for millions of girls across India who are watching, the dream of winning their own crown just got a bit more real.
Sohasini Hedar, CNN, New Delhi.
WALCOTT: A final note on anorexia: Experts say anorexia nervosa is a serious, potentially life threatening eating disorder. Warning signs include dramatic weight loss, preoccupation with dieting, anxiety about gaining weight, and excessive and rigid exercise, to name just a few. It's something teens need to be especially aware of because it usually appears in early to mid-adolescence. Experts say between 5 to 20 percent of individuals struggling with anorexia nervosa will die. But getting help early helps increase the recovery rate.
For more on the condition, ask your doctor or teacher, or go to the Web. One site that has information is www.edap.org.
TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Italy has long been known as the home and heart of opera. And opera is a drama set to music made up of vocal pieces with orchestral accompaniment. The first operas were held in Italy in the 1600s, but the artform has spread around the world.
Today, a blind tenor from Tuscany has emerged as one of the most exciting voices in contemporary opera, and he's also making a name for himself as a pop ballad singer.
Rachel Wells has more on this versatile virtuoso.
ANDREA BOCELLI, SINGER: My English is terrible, especially today, because I'm tired. We arrived just yesterday and I slept not so much.
RACHEL WELLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forgive Andrea Bocelli his broken English. He communicates best in his native Italian, and that's been music to the ears of fans around the world.
Already a European star, the blind Tuscan tenor first hit a high note worldwide with his album "Romanza" in 1997. Since then, the lawyer turned singer has turned into a full-fledged international celebrity. He has performed with Pavarotti; and in her TV special, "These are Special Times," sung with Celine.
BOCELLI: Celine, I like her because she use her voice like an instrument. And she studies everyday her, too, just to have an instrument more perfect.
WELLS: And now Bocelli himself has reached one-name recognizable star status: a simple Andrea will do.
BOCELLI: This is very friendly. I like it. I prefer it.
WELLS: What Andrea also likes is Italian opera. Bocelli's back at the top of the charts with his take on the composer "Verdi," and just released his first full-length, recorded opera: Puccini's "La Boheme."
BOCELLI: "Boheme" is one of the opera more loved in the world, I think. It's more simple and it's easier, also, for the people, and especially for the young people.
WELLS: Young people and a wider audience in general is who Andrea hopes to reach. He lends his voice to movie soundtracks like "Quest for Camelot" and TV commercials.
His Grammy nomination for best new artist in 1999 proved Bocelli's spin on classical was sweeping the States. There hadn't been a classical artist in that category in nearly 30 years.
BOCELLI: When I went home, I close the doors and I am with my family, with my friends, and the success is outside.
WELLS: Rachel Wells, CNN Entertainment News, New York.
ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segments that fit your lesson plan. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities, and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day, find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments. It's all at this Web address, where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy, it's free, it's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops, and neither does learning.
BAKHTIAR: In "Chronicle," the next in our series of profiles for Black History Month. Today, a closer look at Spike Lee. He's an Academy Award-nominated director and a filmmaker who's created a new arena for African-American voices to be heard. He's also a writer, a producer, an entrepreneur, and an actor appearing in several of his own films.
Our Shelley Walcott recently spent some time with Spike Lee.
SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER: Well, there are some backwards people in the world, some people with a very narrow vision of who I am and what I'm about and what I can do.
WALCOTT: He's known for speaking his mind, but behind the bad- boy image is a pull-them-up-by-the-boot-straps entrepreneur, an Academy Award-nominated director who has attracted international attention.
His cultural and artistic impact is unprecedented. Films like "Do the Right Thing," "Malcolm X" and "Four Little Girls" have made Spike Lee a household name.
Spike says it's all the result of some very hard work.
LEE: I think one of the biggest lies that is taught in America is this mythic -- this mythic tale that -- of overnight success: no such thing; no such thing. WALCOTT: He was born Shelton Jackson Lee in Atlanta, Georgia in 1957. As a child, Spike dreamed of playing second base for the New York Mets. But genetics didn't cooperate, and after high school Spike headed off to Morehouse College with no idea of what he wanted to do.
LEE: And I -- it was between the summer of my sophomore and junior years I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker.
WALCOTT: After four years at Morehouse, Spike realized he still didn't have all the skills needed to become a true moviemaker.
LEE: Upon graduation, I still -- I realized -- I was very honest with myself that I wasn't a filmmaker yet. I did not have the necessary skills. And you become a filmmaker by making films. And you tell a story by learning film grammar, the same way you construct a sentence with grammar.
WALCOTT: Convinced lots of practice would make perfect, Spike decided to enroll at New York University's Film School to hone his craft. His senior feature was a critical success, earning him the Student Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
But early raves were followed by a string of failures.
LEE: I wrote a script called "The Messenger" and the funding just didn't appear. And so, to me, I just go back to the drawing board. And it was really scaled down, and wrote a script that could be done for almost nothing. And that turned out to be "She's Gotta Have It."
WALCOTT: It would turn out to be Spike's first feature film and a major hit, costing just $125,000 to make and earning over $8 1/2 million at the box office. The money, of course, made Hollywood come calling. And in 1988, Spike released his first major studio debut, "School Daze."
But it was his third film, 1989's "Do the Right Thing," that launched Spike to the forefront of the American filmmaking community. It was among the year's most controversial and talked-about films and went on to net an Oscar nomination for best screenplay.
Spike had more than proven himself as a filmmaker, but he says it takes a lot more than skill to get noticed.
LEE: It takes more than talent. It takes talent, you got to have determination, drive, willpower, time and -- time is very important -- and luck.
WALCOTT: For a while, it seemed Spike had the best of both worlds. He was an independent filmmaker who could go to Hollywood for his financing. But those worlds collided in 1992 while Spike was working on his long-awaited dream project, "Malcolm X." The studio was demanding Spike trim the film's three-hour running time by half an hour. Spike refused to cut it down.
LEE: Just felt that Malcolm's life was so complex and lived so many different lives, had so many different metamorphoses that you could not do that in two hours.
WALCOTT: The picture managed to reach theaters intact, but only after celebrities, including Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan and others helped defray the cost. Spike says his strong will and determination is key in the making of his films. But the tough exterior has also earned him the reputation of being difficult.
LEE: You know, I don't really worry about that stuff. I mean, if I have a reputation for being difficult, it's because I'm asked (EXPLETIVE) questions like, Spike, do you hate white people? you know, because I don't have tolerance for ignorance. You know, so I'm not just going to sit there and ha ha, chi chi, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, oh, why do you ask? I mean, I'm not going to, you know, I'm not going to be a buffoon or a coon. You know, I'm not going to do a tap dance.
WALCOTT: But his dance card is still pretty full. Aside from making movies, he's been the guiding force behind music videos and numerous television commercials. Spike is also an author and the head of his own production company.
LEE: You know, I'm very lucky that I'm able to make a living doing what I love the most. And most people go to their grave having worked a job all their lives they hated. So the sooner that you could identify what it is that you like, what you want to do, I think the better off you'll be.
WALCOTT: As to the future, Spike says all he has planned is to take life as it comes, telling stories on film, and speaking his mind everywhere else.
Shelley Walcott, CNN, NEWSROOM.
BAKHTIAR: That does it for us here on NEWSROOM. Have a great weekend. We'll see you back here Monday. Bye.
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