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Doctor Rescued From South Pole; Communications Firm Uses Martin Luther King to Pitch Products; Hollywood Builds Sets in Czech Republic

Aired April 27, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: It's Friday and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome. I'm Shelley Walcott.

Here's what's ahead. Topping today's show, a daring mercy mission at the South Pole to save a sick doctor from the United States. Then, in our "Editor's Desk," how a communications firm is using a piece of history to pitch their product. From ad revenue to movie making, "Worldview" checks out why some Hollywood sets are making the move to the Czech Republic. And in "Chronicle," tracking the storm. Today we get up close and personal with meteorologists.

Historic and unprecedented, those are the words being used to describe the successful rescue flight with evacuated an ailing U.S. doctor from the South Pole. A twin engine propeller plane carrying Dr. Ronald Shemenski landed safely in Chile Thursday after a rescue journey which began on Saturday. That's when the plane first departed Punta Arenas, Chile and flew to the British run Rothera Base at Adelaide Island off the Antarctic Peninsula.

From there it flew to the Imensen Scott Station at the South Pole, where the temperature at the time of the landing was minus 68 degrees Celsius. That's minus 90.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The two day return journey began on Wednesday. The rescue was one of the riskiest ever by a small plane to the South Pole and the first one ever attempted during Antarctica's long, harsh, dark polar winter.

Shemenski was the only physician among 50 people working at the South Pole station, where the National Science Foundation conducts astronomy and astrophysics research. Shemenski was recently diagnosed with pancreatitis. Though his condition had improved, a decision was made to evacuate him to the United States for treatment.

New technology has enabled the world to follow along with this amazing rescue mission. CNN and others have used a video phone to broadcast the Antarctica story to the rest of the world. What makes a story right for this type of technology? Well, usually it's taking place in a remote area with no way to send video to a satellite and then back down to CNN.

The advantages? Video phones are inexpensive to use, allowing news crews to travel light, like CNN's Gary Tuchman, who interviewed Dr. Shemenski in Chile.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How are you feeling, sir?

DR. RONALD SHEMENSKI: I'm fine, thank you.

TUCHMAN: How was it being at the bottom of the world and knowing you had this condition?

SHEMENSKI: It was OK. We had lots of support, a lot of support.

TUCHMAN: How was the flight?

SHEMENSKI: Very nice.

TUCHMAN: Was it scary at all?

SHEMENSKI: Oh, no. No. No, the pilots are very professional. They do a very good job. No problems.

TUCHMAN: How do you feel about being away from the South Pole now? You wanted to spend a year there?

SHEMENSKI: Well, I'm disappointed. I'd like to be back.

TUCHMAN: Do you feel OK?

SHEMENSKI: I'm going back. I'm going back. I feel fine.


WALCOTT: The plane used to evacuate the doctor from the South Pole also brought his replacement. What type of person gets to go to the harsh climate of Antarctica? Natalie Pawelski takes a look.


NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People who agree to work the winter in Antarctica know they can't leave for about eight months. Because severe cold, ferocious weather and endless darkness make landing planes too dangerous.

So, before they go, they get a complete physical based in part on NASA's medical guidelines for astronauts. But the process is not foolproof. For example, in 1999, Dr. Jerri Neilson had a clear mammogram just before leaving for the South Pole. Then she found a lump in her breast. And became one of three doctors in a row who've run into medical problems during the Antarctic winter.

ROBERT THOMPSON, FORMER SOUTH POLE PHYSICIAN: The odds of this happening are just too high to calculate and I really can't explain it; it's strange. It makes you think of a jinx.

PAWELSKI: Prospective South Pole dwellers go through psychological screening, as well. An effort to make sure they'll be able to handle the relative isolation of working at the bottom of the world. But while Antarctica is a workplace like no other, a lot of the jobs there are the kind you see listed in any newspaper. Openings for carpenters, plumbers, and office workers are among the current job listings.

Most scientists make research trips during the Austral summer, when the population at the three American stations in Antarctica swells to about 3,500, 10 times the winter population. Medical emergencies happen then, too. But planes can more easily evacuate patients, so they don't tend to make headlines.

Medical efforts don't always succeed. Last year, for example, two people died at American stations in Antarctica. One from a blood clot, the other from unspecified natural causes. Like everywhere else on earth, in Antarctica, death is a part of life.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN.


WALCOTT: Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent on earth. Described as the planet's last great wilderness, the massive continent is rich in natural resources, scenic beauty and wildlife. In the summer season, the continent is home to about 4,000 scientists and support personnel. About the same number of tourists visit as well.

CNN's Stephen Frazier takes a look at how some of them get there.


STEVEN FRAZIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ushuaia, Argentina lies at the tip of South America. It's the world's southernmost city and even though the location is stunning, surrounded by the peaks of the Patagonian Andes, for many visitors the town is only a connecting point. Most cruises to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia, including the Clipper Adventurer.

It will take two days to sail down the Beagle Channel out into open ocean and across the Drake Passage. During the crossing, time is passed in various ways. Like the destination, this isn't your typical cruise ship. There's no casino or show room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fur seal is a herd seal...

FRAZIER: Instead, a team of experienced wildlife experts, scientists and historians is on board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We try very hard to educate people about Antarctica so they have a greater understanding and from then they're able to pass that on to people when they get home.

FRAZIER: It's early December, spring in the Southern Hemisphere and life flourishes.

DORINDA DALLMEYER, NATURALIST: A lot of times what they're up to is greeting their mate. When the mate comes back from sea to relief and from incubating the egg or to help feed the chicks, they throw their heads back and flap their wings to call to each other. Even though they all look alike to us, they know each other by their voices.

FRAZIER: It's a sound this group will become accustomed to during the course of the 10-day voyage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love penguins and to see them in actual life.

FRAZIER: It's an opinion shared by most who've been to or who want to visit Antarctica. And since few predators threaten any of Antarctica animals on land, they're virtually fearless.

Such access is a big part of the continent's charm. Still, most tour operators ask visitors to keep at least 15 feet from the natives, when possible.

But not every attraction is best viewed on land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water here is approximately 2 degrees Celsius -- not much above freezing.

FRAZIER: Zodiacs are crucial to Antarctic exploration. These small craft link ship to land; but they're also useful for navigating narrow channels crowded with another polar spectacle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't this beautiful? Absolutely beautiful.

FRAZIER: Back on the ship it's time for a most unusual lunch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got some cheeseburgers. We got some barbecued chicken, barbecued ribs, everything you'd want to eat in Antarctica.

FRAZIER: And if an open-air grill in Antarctica isn't surprising enough, how about these steaming shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, good morning everybody.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Deception Island, site of your early morning swim. The problem this morning, I take it, it's almost too hot, which is giving you steam.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's freezing and your bottom is boiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deception Island is actually born from a huge volcanic eruption. So there's still magma that's underneath. And there actually is a fair bit of volcanic activity in Antarctica. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is hard to imagine a place like Antarctica. And so even in your wildest dreams you conceive of this idea. And then you get there and you realize that you probably were a little stingy with your imagination.

FRAZIER: Steven Frazier, CNN.


WALCOTT: In school you learned about the late Martin Luther King Jr. He worked to protect the civil rights of all Americans. Once again, the activist is at the center of another rights fight, namely intellectual property rights which protect ideas and creative expressions. The question is should the words and images of Martin Luther King Jr. be protected? Many scholars and historians say no. What do you think?

Bruce Morton has more on the debates.



MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: I have a dream...


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you happened on it channel-surfing, you might think you were watching a documentary, a news report on the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Wrong. You were watching an ad.


ANNOUNCER: Before you can inspire...

KING: We hold these truths to be self-evident...

ANNOUNCER: ... before you can touch...

KING: ... that all men are created equal...

ANNOUNCER: ... you must first connect. And the company that connects more of the world is Alcatel.


MORTON: Alcatel specializes, a spokesman says, in optical networking, broadband access, high-tech stuff. They run TV and print versions of that ad. The negotiated a fee for the use of King's image with the King family through the Martin Luther King Center, though neither party will say how much Alcatel paid.

Many are indignant. Julian Bond, like King, a veteran of the civil rights movement, said it shows the most sacred icons of the movement are not immune to exploitation and commercialization. A company spokesman told The Washington Post, "It's not like we're selling a product. This isn't Fred Astaire with a vacuum cleaner."

Well, sir, you got that exactly right. Mr. Astaire was a fine man and a dancer of grace and power, but he was not a man whose words helped pass a law, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which changed America.

Dr. King himself copyrighted the speech. The King family takes a firm line in seeking payment for the use of his words, even in historical contexts. One King biographer says he was told, "If you quote the speech in your book, you'll have to pay."

I'd like to think that Dr. King, had he lived, would let historians and news reporters quote him freely as we did in the 60s.

What he would make of being used as a pitch man, a company sales rep, we can't know, though in life he was about idea, philosophy and causes, not much concerned with money.

Still, it makes you think. Mr. Lincoln, could your speech be an ad? "The world will little note nor long remember what we say or" -- no, no, sorry, not assertive enough for commercial copy probably. But you have to admit, the Gettysburg Address without networking has lasted pretty well.

Maybe you, Mr. Jefferson. "We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all ad men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights -- life, liberty and the pursuit of profit." Now that has a certain ring, don't you think?

I'm Bruce Morton.


WALCOTT: In "Worldview" today, a trip to the movies. We'll find out who sees the most and how movies make their way around the world. We'll go to the Czech Republic, a scenic setting for many of today's films. And we'll revisit a favorite. It may be gone, but it's not forgotten, a movie made from a world famous book.

It has sold more copies than any other novel in American publishing history. It is a book that chronicles the history of the south, the tragedy of war and the pains of romance. The novel we're talking about, of course, is "Gone With The Wind."

It was written by Atlanta native Margaret Mitchell over a period of several years and first hit bookstores in 1936. Fifty thousand copies flew off the shelf in just one day and within six months, one million copies had been sold.

By 1965, sales of the book passed the 12 million mark and it was translated into 25 languages and sold in 40 countries. The film version of "Gone With The Wind" was also very successful. It premiered in Atlanta in 1939 and went on to win 11 Academy Awards. Here's more now on the book and the movie that's become an integral part of American culture.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You still think you're the belle of the county, don't you?

UNIDENTIFIED COLLECTOR: This was the very first "Gone With The Wind" costume I started with back in 1961. I was doing some research at Western Costume, saw this costume lying on the floor, went over to pick it up. About that time somebody walked over and said well, don't worry about that, they're going to be throwing all those things away next week. I held it out. Fortunately I saw a label on the jacket that read "Scarlett (ph)." I offered to buy it. They sold it to me for $50 and that's how my "Gone With The Wind" collection started.

See, even back then I realized the significance of "Gone With The Wind" in film and to actually hold and touch something from that movie, it actually, you know, it sent chills through my arms and I still get it today.

In the film the only thing you see is about one inch of the sleeves that fan out. That's all you see of the costume. Well, actually, I have 37 original costumes. They're all kept on storage on the west coast. I have several more of Clark Gable's, Vivian Leigh's, Leslie Howard's. The skirt for the Ona Munson costume is being worked on as we speak, probably about another year's worth of restoration. But I can guarantee it'll be worth the effort.

And this was the second piece of "Gone With The Wind" memorabilia that I bought.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again.

UNIDENTIFIED AUCTIONEER: Vivian Leigh's Oscar for "Gone With The Wind."

UNIDENTIFIED COLLECTOR: A lot of people were bidding against me.

UNIDENTIFIED AUCTIONEER: Forty thousand, $45,000, $50,000.

UNIDENTIFIED COLLECTOR: And it cost me a lot of money but it certainly was worth it.

UNIDENTIFIED AUCTIONEER: Five hundred and ten thousand dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED COLLECTOR: This I bought with the money I saved by not shaving.

The only thing that I don't have for my collection right now is a permanent home. I'm in sincere wish of being able to put this someplace where the people can come to see it rather than it coming to see the people all the time because they are 61 years old, some of these items, and they're very fragile. But, so that's the only thing I don't have for my collection that I'm really looking for and that's a permanent place.


WALCOTT: Now to Prague in the Czech Republic. Called the city of a hundred spires because of its many churches, Prague is one of the few central European cities that escaped major damage during the Second World War. In 1918, the Czech Republic and its neighboring country Slovakia formed the country of Czechoslovakia. Though it began as a Western style democracy, after WW II Czechoslovakia came under Russian rule and a communist regime took over the country.

But in 1989, the pro-Soviet regime was overthrown, paving the way for democratization. A few years later, the Czech and Slavic Federation was dissolved and the republics gained their independence. Now the glamorous Czech capital has become a Hollywood hot spot. Elina Fuhrman tells us why.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We're being ambushed.

ELINA FUHRMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Action, fantasy and music, moviegoers love it all. But what do the movie makers go for?




FUHRMAN: And Prague these days seems to be the location of choice for many top movie makers. Fleeing high costs, strict work rules and the prospect of strikes by actors and writers at home, international studios are farming out more and more work abroad. But no would be Hollywood set is hotter right now than the graceful capital of the Czech Republic.

TOM HAMMEL, PRODUCER: Without a doubt. It's driven by the fact that Hollywood always chases places where it can do the work on an affordable level or a more affordable level and save money.

FUHRMAN: All local contractors are hired independently and no unions exist. Studio costs and costume rentals are just a fraction of Western prices.

(on camera): Keeping costs low is important in movie making. A set like this one, which recreates 19th century London, would have cost three times as much anywhere else in Europe. But Western production companies are looking out for much more than cheap locations.

(voice-over): Some things that are possible in the Czech Republic would be unimaginable in Los Angeles or London. For example, the streets on the set were paved with real cobblestones rented by the truckload from the Prague city government. In addition, the city itself is a ready made film set with Medieval architecture and a ninth century castle overlooking the Vuthala Bridge (ph).

HAMMEL: It's a simple, easy, beautiful place to work. That said, it's hard to live on location wherever you are, but Prague makes it easy. There's lots of, a lot of culture, a lot of, you know, a lot of positive things about working here.

FUHRMAN: Westerners like Matthew Stillman, a British expatriate, help bring international productions to Prague. Stillman says movie makers like the fact that Prague locations can double for London, Paris, Zurich and even New York.

MATTHEW STILLMAN, STILLKING PRODUCTIONS: I don't think we've ever done a film here that's been, that's used the location for Prague.

FUHRMAN: But Czech producers don't necessarily share the enthusiasm of their Western counterparts. They find it difficult to raise funds and the invasion of the movie makers has injected inflation into filming costs.

JAROSLAV BOUCEK, CZECH FILM PRODUCER: It's a big problem because these best people, these filmmakers, Czech filmmakers shooting with bigger money, with American or Western production.

FUHRMAN: For now, there is little sign of Western producers falling out of love with Prague, until perhaps the next cheap, accessible and beautiful location becomes fashionable. At least in that case, Czech filmmakers may get their capital and talent back.

Elina Fuhrman, CNN, Prague.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: You've heard a lot about movies today from some old favorites to places they're shot. Now let's focus on the business of movies around the world. Americans are often first to get new movies, but who gets them after that? Which part of the world is high on the distribution list for the top films?

Jim Bolton (ph) takes a look.


JIM BOLTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russell Crowe's "Gladiator" has been seen around the world. But why did Britain and Australia see it months before France and Germany? And why were the Germans the last to see "Erin Brockovich?" Most films, of course, start their run in the United States. After that, it's to the English speaking countries where cultures are pretty similar. Then other nations follow on.

Germany is traditionally near the bottom of the list for film releases. The reason, of course, is how many times people go to the cinema, which is where the film stands the best chance of making the most money. And as these numbers show, average attendance in continental Europe is less than that of the U.S. and Britain. There's another reason, cinemas in some countries are bigger so the studios can house bigger audiences and that means bigger profits.

DAVID HANCOCK, SENIOR ANALYST, "SCREEN DIGEST": You're looking for areas where you can have the highest numbers of people in one screen because that means you have less costs in distributing it to several screens. Now, those areas are Japan, U.K., Australia, which has, on average, about 60,000 people per screen per year coming into that area. Whereas other countries such as Germany and Italy, for example, are far lower, about 30,000 people per screen. Obviously the economics tends to favor the U.K., Australia and Japan.

BOLTON: The decision about what movie will open where is tied to how many films there are on release and also the best guess of which film will appeal where. Forget art, this is simple economics.

Jim Bolton, CNN Financial News, London.


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.

WALCOTT: Weather is a big part of our daily lives. A heavy rainstorm can snarl traffic on the highway for hours and heavy snow can close schools and businesses for days. Because of this, many of us have come to rely on local weather people to guide us through the elements.

Mike McManus has this look at a day in the life of the meteorologist.


DOUG HILL, TELEVISION METEOROLOGIST: When I was seven years old, my house got struck by lightning and I passed out. My parents had to take me to the hospital.

Hello, how you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Fine, how are you?

HILL: Pretty good.

I used to keep journals of clouds and I used to listen to radio stations and log, and especially in the wintertime, log the barometric pressure readings. I just kept having this pipe dream that somehow, somehow I'm going to get a job and I'm going to be on TV. I get rejections and pretty nasty rejections from everybody, except one in Richmond. He called and said his weekend weather person just quit. I'd like to give you a chance to come in and audition.

UNIDENTIFIED FILMMAKER: A convergence of warm and cold air spawned tornadoes. Before it was all over...

UNIDENTIFIED FILMMAKER: Tomorrow's weather, clouds and some light snow over the southern portions of the state, sunshine up north. That's where the cold air is and we'll see that here by Tuesday.

HILL: ABC 7 weather.

When you're on TV, especially with the weather -- Hey, George, what's up? -- you seem to be a magnet for people that are alone, for the elderly, people that are disabled.

Yup. You're not having rain up there right now?

After a while, especially after 17 years on TV in Washington, you become a friend or a member of the family.


BRIAN VAN DE GRAAFF, WEATHER PRODUCER, WJLA-TV: Making sure the graphics are up to date and in between the shows the numbers are going to change so you want to make sure that the numbers are the most numbers, temperatures from the airports and from the area.

HILL: Let's see what we've got.

The equipment's geared that nothing surprises you and we have such varied ways now of displaying the information. We have a list now of 1,000 people on our e-mail that I e-mail forecasts to every afternoon and evening.

It's slow today.

A New Jersey mayor wants forecasters held responsible for dire predictions like this week's snowstorm that fizzled in some areas.

There's no way on earth you can forecast amounts before the storm even forms, yet there's a tendency in TV weather people to do that. If you rely totally on the model solutions and don't trust your eyes and don't trust your experience, you can blow the forecast big time. I've certainly done it before.

I'd like you to take the bags and wrinkles out today.

UNIDENTIFIED MAKEUP ARTIST: Oh, if I could do it, I would be working on myself right now.

HILL: Do you have the brown spray to put on today?

Obviously this is just for the bright lights in the studios why I wear makeup.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: WTOP news time 4:08. Traffic and weather together on the eighth.

HILL: Just looking up at the radar right now, we've got a little band of showers moving through Hagerstown (ph) a little bit east to just north of Frederick (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: News at five with Kathleen Matthews (ph).

HILL: And I'll point out the clouds moving over this, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED CAMERAMAN: All right, show time.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: And meteorologist Doug Heran (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED CAMERAMAN: Moving out to camera two.

HILL: I've got an interesting little story to start with tonight.


HILL: I'm not going to give it away. You'll enjoy it.


HILL: All right. You do the news, I do the weather normally. We're going to turn it around a little bit.


HILL: This is a kind of weather news. Check this out. A New Jersey mayor wants forecasters to be held responsible for their dire predictions.

As far as it comes to predicting weather for this area and knowing how it affects people and knowing how to effectively communicate that to people and have it have meaning and do it in a way that's friendly and warm, I'll put my stuff up against anybody.

Some of that will reach our area, but just widely scattered showers in the forecast tonight. In fact, that's what we have in our forecast. For this evening, we're calling for showers possible, temperatures in the '40s, the sunset getting later as we head towards the first day of spring.

If I can come away and people will say I understood exactly what you explained last night, or now I understand exactly what's happening with this storm...

There could be, could be just a few sprinkles at that time.

-- that's a big win for me. I've done my job the right way.

All done. Wasn't that fun? That worked out OK.


WALCOTT: More science news in store for you next week. Coming up next Thursday on NEWSROOM, we'll bring you a special segment titled Voyage Of Life. Our Joel Hochmuth (ph) tackles some of the tough ethical and scientific questions regarding both the future and history of life as we know it. Just how could recent advances in genetics change what it means to be human? And what about some recent challenges to long held theories about our origins? We'll hear from both sides.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Evolution happened. It works.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I would say there's not overwhelming evidence and I think the theory is in trouble.


WALCOTT: That's all a part of the voyage of life, right here on May 3.

That's it for today's show. We'll see you next week. Bye-bye.

ANNOUNCER: CNN NEWSROOM, here for you 12 months a year. And it's free. Educators need to enroll once a year And it's easy. In the U.S., call 1-800-344-6219; outside the U.S., 44207-637-6912; or on the Internet at

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