Friday, November 3, 2017

60 Minutes 11/5 on CBS

As the San Francisco Residential Skyscraper Sinks and Leans, the Number of Lawsuits Rises

As the cracks in its basement walls slowly widen, a visual clue to the slow sinking of the 645-foot skyscraper, the residents of Millennium Tower file lawsuits and wonder how far their homes – and their investments in those homes – will sink. Jon Wertheim went to San Francisco to report on the building that’s become the most infamous in the city’s skyline, for a 60 MINUTES story to be broadcast Sunday, Nov. 5 (7:30-8:30 PM, ET/7:00-8:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Since its foundation was poured in 2006, the Millennium has sunk 17 inches and tilted 14 inches to the northwest. The posh residence was once touted as the best in the city and its units commanded millions from the likes of tech titans and the city’s former pro quarterback, Joe Montana. Pat and Jerry Dodson were enthusiastic buyers. They tell Wertheim they were euphoric over their new home until the news broke about the sinking. Jerry, a lawyer and engineer, now makes a daily trip to the basement to check on the spread of cracks in the walls. “There’s enough of them, a spider web of cracks… that you have to be concerned about what’s going on underneath…I’ve been told by structural and geotechnical engineers that I should be watching.”

The trouble at the Millennium Tower has spawned numerous lawsuits – to which there are some 20 parties so far. But some residents have already sold their units. “We don’t know if this building’s going to stand up in an earthquake,” says Frank Jernigan. “And so I became severely frightened of that.” His husband, Andrew Faulk, adds, “And we got out. We left really most all of our belongings. We just left,” he tells Wertheim. They say they lost between 3 and 4 million dollars when they sold their apartment earlier this year. “We sold it for approximately half of what it was valued at before this news came to light,” says Jernigan.

Millennium Tower was built to code, but some engineers now say that because the building is made of concrete and heavier than a steel building, its foundation should have been driven deeper, all the way to bedrock, to prevent sinking. An interesting array of suggestions about how to fix the tower have been floated around town; they include freezing the ground beneath in perpetuity or lopping off the top 20 floors to decrease its weight. More likely, say engineers, the foundation will have to be strengthened by new piles that reach down to bedrock.

Meanwhile the tech-fueled building boom in San Francisco continues unabated, and “bedrock” has become the new watchword to developers. In an ironic reference to Millennium’s troubles, tech giant Salesforce, whose headquarters was recently completed across the street, proudly tweeted that it was resting on “Bedrock Baby!”

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            The stories below are scheduled to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Nov. 5 (7:30-8:30 PM, ET/7:00-8:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network. 

PUERTO RICO – Six weeks after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory is still mostly without power. Steve Kroft reports from the devastated island. Graham Messick and Michael Karzis are the producers.

THE LEANING TOWER OF SAN FRANCISCO – One of the city’s most expensive residential high rises has become the talk of the town because the 645-ft. tower is sinking and leaning to one side. Jon Wertheim reports on the Millennium Tower. Nathalie Sommer is the producer.

ALMA – Twelve-year-old Alma Deutscher is so talented she is drawing comparisons to a young Mozart. But, the young British virtuoso, a natural composer who plays piano and violin, shows Scott Pelley she has her own unique talent. Robert G. Anderson and Aaron Weisz are the producers. 

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Alma Deutscher could be as gifted as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but the 12-year-old prodigy gently pushes away a comparison to the musical genius, insisting she has her own unique talent. The young British virtuoso, a natural composer who plays piano and violin, discusses and demonstrates her incredible musicality in a profile by Scott Pelley on the next edition of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Nov. 5 (7:30-8:30 PM, ET/7:00-8:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Deutscher has been playing piano and violin since the age of 3 and started playing her own melodies at 4. She set herself apart from other prodigies when she composed an opera when she was just 10 – a feat requiring mastery of all the instruments in the orchestra. When Pelley points out that Mozart also premiered his first opera at the same age, Deutscher is polite but firm. “I know that they mean it to be very nice to compare me to Mozart,” she says, “Of course, I love Mozart, and I would have loved him to be my teacher. But I think I would prefer to be the first Alma than to be the second Mozart.”

She has a chance to make a significant mark, says Robert Gjerdingen, a professor of music at Northwestern in Chicago and a consultant on Deutscher’s musical education for several years. He sees unlimited potential for such a gifted girl. “[Music] is her first language. She speaks the Mozart style. She speaks the style of Mendelssohn, as if she were a native speaker,” he tells Pelley. “She’s batting in the big leagues. And if you win the pennant, there’s immortality,” says Gjerdingen.

Deutscher is already an accomplished professional. 60 MINUTES captured her with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra this past summer, playing the piano and violin solos for her own concertos. She also wrote the scores for the instruments accompanying her. In December, the San Jose Orchestra will stage “Cinderella” in Deutscher’s American debut, where she’ll play the piano, organ and violin.

The melodies have been in her head, she says, ever since her musicality was awakened by listening to a lullaby by Richard Strauss when she was 3. It’s constant, she tells Pelley. “It’s really very normal to me to go around—walk around and having melodies popping into my head. It’s the most normal thing in the world,” she says. “For me, it’s strange to walk around and not to have melodies popping into my head.”

The melodies can reflect a broad range of emotions, including dark and dramatic, seemingly beyond the experience of such a young girl who says she is quite happy. Deutscher says the melodies come from within her mind, and she has a method of organizing and recalling them. She has created an imaginary country with conjured composers, each of whom specializes in a different musical emotion. She calls one of them Antonin Yellowsink. “I have lots of composers. And sometimes when I'm stuck with something, when I'm composing, I go to them and ask them for advice. And quite often, they come up with very interesting things.”

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