One of the world’s cultural gems and the city of canals and gondola boats is facing an uncertain future, says a professor of geosciences. Venice, Italy, where floods at high tide have been occurring for decades, experienced three of the highest ever recorded in one month alone last year. The signs are unmistakable, says Princeton Geosciences Professor Michael Oppenheimer: the city’s existence is threatened, and the major cause is climate change. John Dickerson reports from Venice on the next edition of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Jan. 12 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
“Venice is facing an existential threat essentially to the city as it has been,” says Oppenheimer, a lead author in a landmark UN study on climate change that found sea-level rise worse than experts thought. Venice is ground zero. “The rest of the world should take the message that this is what the situation’s going to look like in many places that they live in.”
He tells Dickerson that places like Los Angeles, San Diego, Key West, Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah and Honolulu are among the cities to be most affected.
But it’s already happening in Venice, where the La Fenice Opera House narrowly escaped catastrophe last November as the waters rose in its first story. Dickerson gets a tour of the areas where water rose nearly high enough to touch electrical wiring that would have caused a fire if water had reached it. The salt the tidal water leaves behind also poses a problem. Venetians refer to it as a cancer because it can eat away the mosaics and foundations.
Dickerson also reports on a controversial water repelling system being built where the waters of the Adriatic Sea flow into the lagoon surrounding Venice. Once finished, its giant gates are expected to keep back the highest tides enough to prevent historic flooding. The project was started 17 years ago.
Oppenheimer believes the U.S. needs to seriously address the rising seas. He warns, “By the year 2050, which is only 30 years into the future, many places around the world, including in the U.S., are going to experience their historical once-in-a-hundred-year flood level once a year or more…An event that used to cause severe flooding once a century, we’re going to get that same water level once a year.”
How does the world’s #1 ranked tennis player stay on top? He practices intensely every morning – even at home on a break from the tennis season. Intensity is not the first word that comes to mind on the beautiful Spanish island of Mallorca, where Nadal grew up and still lives. Nonetheless, Jon Wertheim finds a focused player who tells him that a key to his remarkable and enduring success is the doubt he has in his mind and the way it keeps him sharp. Wertheim’s story on Nadal will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Jan. 12 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Nadal has been a top-10 player on the tour since he was a teenager, and today, at 33, he has won 19 major tournaments, just one behind the men’s record held by his older rival, Roger Federer. He has closed out the season as the #1 player five times.
Most players use the five weeks of tennis’ off-season to rest up. It’s a nice break in a beautiful place, but Nadal practices each morning in Mallorca. 60 MINUTES cameras were allowed in for a rare look at Nadal’s practice session. They capture him being peppered with shots by his two coaches at the same time. Nadal pounded back with the same determination and force he would use in a Wimbledon final. “I am a very intense person with a lot of energy. I live life and sports at maximum intensity. This is how I feel it,” he tells Wertheim, who has been covering him on the pro tour for 15 years.
Some of the intensity he brings to bear in his pro matches comes from an unlikely place. Whereas most players want to strike doubt from their minds to boost their confidence, he says that he draws on doubt when facing his opponents. “If you don’t have doubt, it probably means that you’re being arrogant,” he says. “[Doubt] is good for me, because then I feel alert. Tennis is a sport where things can change very quickly. That’s the great beauty of our sport.”
Wertheim reports that Nadal got an early start in the sport when his tennis instructor uncle, Toni Nadal, first discovered his talent. “Normally, when you throw the ball to most kids, they wait for the ball to come to them,” says the older Nadal. “But when [Rafael] was three years old, he went straight for it.”
VENICE IS DROWNING – One of the world’s cultural gems and the city of canals and gondola boats is facing an uncertain future as it deals with increasingly higher tides blamed on climate change. John Dickerson reports. Draggan Mihailovich is the producer.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX – Meet the real man behind the dark and complicated roles he’s known for playing. Anderson Cooper profiles the Oscar-nominated actor from the controversial film “Joker” and gets a rare interview with his family. Nichole Marks and David Levine are the producers.
RAFA – The world’s #1 tennis player, Rafael Nadal, takes Jon Wertheim back to his hometown on the beautiful Spanish island of Mallorca. But it’s not a vacation, as the court star known as “Rafa” to his fans practices intensely every morning. Nathalie Sommer is the producer.
Intense and complex characters have become something of a specialty for actor Joaquin Phoenix, with his current critically acclaimed and controversial role as the mentally ill clown turned killer Arthur Fleck in “Joker” a prime example. But 60 MINUTES met the more affable man behind those roles when Anderson Cooper profiled Phoenix for the next edition of 60 MINUTES. The story will be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 12 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Phoenix admitted he still gets “petrified” on film sets. It’s not stage fright, so much as the worry that he will not be able to bring to life all the ideas he has for his character. “There are so many things that I want to express… when I take on a role,” he tells Cooper. “And so I guess I am just nervous that I’m not going to be able to find the right kind of space to express that.”
He’s been known to get testy when asked about his acting process in interviews – in large part, he says, because he doesn’t fully understand it himself. However, he was able to describe to Cooper how he came to a pivotal scene in “Joker,” just after his character, Arthur Fleck, commits his first murder.
The script called for Fleck to simply run from the crime scene and hide his gun in a restroom. Phoenix says he and the film’s director, Todd Phillips, felt that the scene required something more. “It felt like the character had moved way past that…there was the opportunity to express something else, but I didn’t know precisely what.” Phillips played Phoenix a piece of cello music that had been composed for the film, and that inspired an idea. “I thought there was some kind of movement. That it was some kind of physical transformation, right? A metamorphosis,” says Phoenix. While the cameras rolled, he performed a slow, macabre dance to the haunting music to mark the transformation of his character into a deranged murderer.
In the 60 MINUTES profile, he discusses his childhood and the tragic death of his brother, the actor River Phoenix. The story also includes the first group interview with the Phoenix family in decades.