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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Natasha Richardson Dies of Injuries; Barack Obama Holds Town Hall Meeting
Aired March 18, 2009 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news tonight on several fronts.
We are in Warren, Michigan, in a local pub just across 12 Mile Road from the General Motors Technical Center traveling the ROAD TO RESCUE.
In a moment, President Obama also on the road giving a fiery defense of his economic plans, trying to move past the AIG bonus fiasco.
First though our breaking news: the remarkable actress Natasha Richardson has died. She succumbed tonight in New York to head injuries suffered on a ski slope in Quebec. Natasha was the mother of two young kids and wife of actor Liam Neeson.
It was often noted that she came from a family of accomplished actors but she was a remarkable talent in her own right starring in movies and on Broadway where she won a Tony Award for her role in the revival of "Cabaret."
She was just 45 years old and it is hard to believe she is gone.
Gary Tuchman has the latest.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The story could not be sadder. Natasha Richardson, a talented actress, married to a talented actor, the mother of two children who she was skiing with on vacation in Quebec has died from an apparent head injury suffered in a fall on the slopes.
A family spokesperson announcing tonight "Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love, and prayers of everyone and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."
The 45-year-old actress was flown Tuesday to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York from Montreal after falling on a beginner's slope where she was taking lessons a day earlier. Family members like her mother, Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave, her husband actor Liam Neeson and both their children all were seen at the hospital hours before the announcement was made.
TV crews and reporters surrounded the hospital. The family had not been commenting which gave many of us a bad feeling. After she fell on Monday Ms. Richardson began complaining of a headache. She was taken by ambulance to a hospital about 20 minutes away. The ski resort spokeswoman said that she didn't show any signs of injury. She was talking and she seemed all right.
Throughout the day Tuesday, conflicting reports about Richardson's condition. Tuesday night she was flown from Montreal to Lenox Hill Hospital.
Throughout the day Wednesday family and friends like actress Lauren Bacall were seen arriving at the hospital and tonight, the announcement that she had passed away.
The Tony award winner appeared in films like "Maid in Manhattan" and the 1998 remake of "The Parent Trap." In 1994 she costarred with the man who later became her husband in the film "Nell"
NATASHA RICHARDSON, ACTRESS: Mommy loves daddy, really.
TUCHMAN: The couple was married that same year. Their two sons are 13-year-old Michael and 12-year-old Daniel who were with their mother at this Broadway opening. This family so often brought together under the bright lights of the stage or the cameras are now together in New York at this most tragic of times.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: I was privileged to get to know Natasha Richardson over the past years. She was passionately devoted to her family, to her two young boys, and it is frankly stunning to think she's no longer with us. They say that some people light up the room when they walk into it and Natasha Richardson knocked the room out when she appeared.
She was quick to laugh, and quick to express love, and that light that she had, she was truly electric, embracing life with both arms, with a strong mind and open heart. The lives of all those who knew her and loved her is a great deal darker tonight. Please keep her family and her kids in your prayers.
The idea that a seemingly minor injury can be life threatening is terrifying. Knowing more though can save lives and prevent tragedies.
So with that in mind we're joined tonight by Dr. Wendy Wright, professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at Emory University. Dr. Wright, there are few details out right now about what happened. I don't really want to go down the road of speculation.
But based on what you've seen how do you explain this?
DR. WENDY WRIGHT, PROF. OF NEOROLOGY, EMORY UNIV.: Right. Well, when we hear a story like this the first thing that we think of is that she may have developed a blood clot between the skull and the brain.
The reason I say this is because patients can classically have what's called a lucid interval where they seem fine for minutes, to even up to a couple hours but then as the blood clot expands, pressure builds up on the brain and this can be rapidly fatal if the person isn't rushed into emergency surgery.
COOPER: How could, though, her condition deteriorate so quickly? All accounts she was alert after the fall. She was talking.
WRIGHT: Right. And this is absolutely what we'll see, if it was in fact this blood clot issue called an epidural hematoma. The brain can tolerate a certain amount of pressure but then as the pressure builds someone might develop a headache, lose consciousness, they might have a seizure.
And then as the pressure really builds, the brain can't expand because it's protected in the rigid skull. The only thing the brain can do is push down through the hole at the base of the brain where the spinal cord enters and this is fatal often.
COOPER: So beyond wearing a helmet -- it can happen over a minute -- beyond wearing helmet obviously, when skiing, what should people know? I mean, if somebody has a fall and it seems like it's not a big deal, should they, I mean, consult a doctor? Should they watch themselves very closely?
WRIGHT: The truth of the matter is many times if it seems like it's not a big deal it's probably not going to be a big deal but if someone does develop neurologic symptoms including a headache, slurring in their speech, dizziness, visual problems, weakness, et cetera, they have to seek immediate medical attention.
And really, if there's any concern even though the fall seems very minor, there's no bruising or outward signs of injury, it doesn't hurt to get checked out by a physician.
COOPER: And how often is something like this fatal?
WRIGHT: Well, if the problem was an epidural hematoma, this blood clot in the brain, that is a fatal condition. If it's not corrected, a person can die very quickly. But minor head injuries like this...
COOPER: Could this have been a preexisting condition?
WRIGHT: It's difficult to say because remember we're getting very little information. The blood clots like I'm describing aren't necessarily preexisting but people can be predisposed to them if they're taking aspirin or blood thinners or if they have other types of bleeding disorders like liver damage or something else that might make them prone to bleeding.
COOPER: All right. Well, Dr. Wendy Wright, we appreciate your expertise tonight. Thank you very much.
WRIGHT: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: We're going to have more on the life of Natasha Richardson later on in this program. Coming up, we'll also be going talking about the AIG bonuses.
Let us know what you think join us at the AC360.com site. And join the live chat that's happening now, also Randi Kaye's live Web cast during the breaks tonight.
We're going to be talking, as I said, more about Natasha's rich career a bit later on in the program.
Up next though, President Obama on the road, a passionate performance before a town hall crowd. Hear how he's defending his handling the AIG mess and his answers to critics including 360's David Gergen who says he's trying to do too much.
Also, Ali Velshi on major money news out of Washington that could be music to Detroit: a massive injection of money into the credit markets.
And later, how pioneers in Detroit are trying to turn abandoned houses into a reborn neighborhood.
ON THE ROAD TO RESCUE when 360 continues.
COOPER: We're ON THE ROAD TO RESCUE tonight here in Warren, Michigan.
President Obama is traveling a similar road in Southern California. He's being dogged by the AIG bonus fiasco. We have new information tonight, on how it came to be and who may have enabled it to continue.
The heat now on Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, home to the AIG division in question; Chris Dodd received an awful lot of money from AIG over the years, also a lot of heat on the Treasury Secretary.
But first, the President at a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa earlier tonight. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we're going to do everything we can to deal with these specific bonuses. And I know Washington is all in a tizzy and everybody is pointing fingers at each other and saying it's their fault, the Democrats' fault, the Republicans' fault.
Listen. I'll take responsibility. I'm the President. So we didn't draft these contracts. And we've got a lot on our plate. But it is appropriate when you're in charge to make sure that stuff doesn't happen like this. So we're going to do everything we can to fix it.
So for everybody in Washington who's busy scrambling and trying to figure out how to blame somebody else, just go ahead and talk to me. Because it's my job to make sure that we fix these messes even if I don't make them. But what's just as important is that we make sure we don't find ourselves in this situation again where taxpayers are on the hook for losses in bad times and all the wealth generated in good times goes to those who are at the very top of the income ladder.
That's the kind of ethics we've had for too long. That's the kind of approach that led us into this mess. And that is something we have to change if we're truly going to turn our economy around and move this country forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The President quick to point out we didn't draft these contracts but the truth is Congress and the White House did have a hand in doling out the money and could have renegotiated the contracts which were already negotiated by AIG executives. We're talking $165 million in bonuses.
Today the CEO of AIG came under withering fire from a House Subcommittee from lawmakers who on Capitol Hill -- this is where all of this began, where these bills could have been changed, lawmakers saying the executives should give back some of the money. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD LIDDY, CEO, AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP: This morning I've asked the employees of AIG financial products to step up and do the right thing, specifically I've asked those who received retention payments in excess of $100,000 or more to return at least half of those payments.
Some have already stepped forward and offered to give up a hundred percent of their payments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes, it's hard to say whether that will actually happen though. Dana Bash now takes a look.
I mean, the real question is who's responsible for this? Who made up these contracts not only within AIG but within the government? Who oversaw it? Who knew about these contracts? And who did nothing to rewrite the bill before this TARP money was given?
Dana Bash takes a look at who's responsible.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): All this outrage about AIG's bonuses, from the White House...
OBAMA: People are right to be angry. I'm angry.
BASH: To Capitol Hill.
SEN. MAX BAUCUS, (D) FINANCE CHAIRMAN: The country is angry. Individual Americans are angry. I am angry.
BASH: Yet Congress passed a bill last month that the President signed into law allowing AIG to keep its bonuses and for days no one would fess up about who was responsible for a mysterious loop hole that let that happen.
But CNN solved the mystery. It was the Obama Treasury Department and Senator Chris Dodd.
Here's what happened. Last month's massive stimulus bill included a Dodd measure to strictly limit executive bonuses but slipped inside at the last minute an exemption for bonuses agreed to on or before February 11th, 2009.
That allowed AIG to go ahead with its controversial bonuses. Just yesterday Dodd adamantly denied to CNN that he was responsible for the exemption.
SEN. CHRISTHOPER DODD, (D) BANKING CHAIRMAN: When I left the Senate it was not in there so when I wrote the language there was no such language like that. I can't point a finger at someone who offered the change it all.
BASH: But today an official at the Treasury Department flatly contradicted Dodd telling CNN his office did know and that it was Obama Treasury officials who pressed him to make the change because they worried that his measure to limit executive bonuses and pre- existing contracts like AIG's would face a legal challenge.
When CNN took that information to Dodd, he reversed course and admitted he did make the change.
(on camera) You did agree to modify this to put that clause in?
DODD: The alternative was losing in my view the entire section on executive excessive compensations. Given the choice, this is not uncommon occurrence here, I agreed to a modification in the legislation reluctantly. I wasn't negotiating with myself here, I wasn't changing my own amendment, I was changing the amendment because others were insisting on it.
BASH (voice over): Dodd insisted he made the change at the behest of the administration but admitted he was wrong in initially denying his role.
(on camera) You were very adamant yesterday -- very adamant that you didn't know how this change got in there and now you are saying that your staff did work with the administration.
DODD: Well, going back and looking at it, obviously, I apologize.
COOPER: So Dana, let me get this straight. For the last day everyone has been saying on Capitol Hill oh, this thing died, this thing was changed in conference committee, the language that would have forced AIG executives to change these bonuses was taken out and everyone said there were no fingerprints on it but now Chris Dodd is saying in fact he actually did this?
BASH: You've got it and not only not saying that there weren't any fingerprints but as you just saw Senator Dodd denied that he was the one whose fingerprints were on it. And now he's admitting that they were and really this came out as we just reported there, Anderson, because we were able to get from the Treasury Department that actually this was done because they were concerned about this.
They were concerned about the idea that if you were to limit executive compensation and you review it going back in time that would open them up to lawsuits. So as you just heard Senator Dodd insisted that that's the only reason why he agreed to change this.
He also insisted today, Anderson, something very interesting. He said that at the time when they were negotiating this about a month and a half ago, he said, no one believed that we would be sitting here talking about AIG and the bonuses.
COOPER: But isn't then it's a little hypocritical for folks on Capitol Hill today to be grilling this AIG executive, a guy who is basically making a dollar a year who came back from retirement to try to bailout this company -- for these folks to be grilling him, when in fact it was, I mean this decision was made on Capitol Hill. They could have prevented this.
BASH: That is a very, very good point. And that's basically one of the reasons why we were, CNN, Drew Griffin and other people at CNN and other colleagues of ours here on Capitol Hill were trying to figure out how and why Congress could be outraged as they were.
And not just Congress but also the Obama administration be as outraged as they were when they did have this opportunity and frankly a lot of other opportunities to do this, to stop this. Because that's what they do, they legislate.
And they could have figured out a way to try to stop these bonuses and guess what? Because of this outrage, Anderson, starting tomorrow the House of Representatives they're going to go back and try to fix what they didn't do before.
And they're going to try to tax these bonuses to try to effectively strip them at this point after they're getting the outrage from their constituents.
COOPER: Yes, it seems like the horse has left the barn on this one. It's a little bit like folks, that police detective in Casablanca saying he is shocked, shocked to find out there is gambling going on in Rick's casino.
These people on Capitol Hill knew about this stuff and could have prevented this and didn't. And now they're acting surprised and outraged, it's unbelievable.
A lot of folks talking about this on the AC360.com, join in on the live chat happening now.
Dana thanks for the reporting that you and the other folks down in Washington are doing, Drew Griffin as well on this and Ed Henry, from the White House.
We're going to have more on this AIG bonus fiasco and more from President Obama in the town hall meeting. What he has to say about it all.
And we're going to take a look at Bernie Madoff, at exactly what assets he has, what the Feds can take, whether or not anyone who lost money is going to be able to get back any money. And his wife, news that she maybe moving down to Florida and authorities won't be able to seize the house they have down there in Palm Beach.
We'll take a look at what assets Bernie Madoff has. It's going to make you more mad, I can tell you that. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back to 360. We are ON THE ROAD TO RESCUE, the road to recovery.
We're here in Warren, Michigan. We're going to be talking to people as we have been all day in the Detroit area about their journey on this road.
There's been a lot of criticism on President Obama that he's trying to do too much, too many things at once and he's not focused enough just on economic issues. A new poll is out today; 55 percent of Americans seem to agree with that saying the President is trying to do too much; 43 percent say -- 42 percent I should say, say that no, and in fact he's not trying to handle too many issues at once.
It's been a criticism some have leveled at him on this program, David Gergen among others.
Here's what the President had to say a short time ago a few hours ago in a town hall meeting in California. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Now, there are those who say these plans are too ambitious. We should be trying to do less and not more. Obama's trying to do too much, they say. Just focus on Wall Street. Focus on the banks.
Well, I say our challenges are too large to ignore. The cost of health care is too high to ignore. The dependence on oil is too dangerous to ignore. Our education deficit is too wide to ignore. To kick these problems down the road for another four years or eight years -- that would be to continue the same irresponsibility that got us to this point.
I didn't run for President to pass on our problems to the next generation or the next President. I ran for President to solve these problems so that you've got a better shot at life. You know, I've said before, when you're President you've got to walk and chew gum at the same time. It would be nice if I could just pick and choose what problems to face and when to face them and say, no, I'm sorry. Hold off on health care. Afghanistan, let's put that aside for a while.
You know, I would sleep a little easier. But that's not the way it works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The President tonight at a town hall meeting in Orange County, California saying in so many words, you go to war with the issues you have.
A lot of folks around here though, no matter what the President is talking about in terms of other issues there is so much outrage, you hear it here in Detroit and you hear it all over the United States, so much outrage over this AIG bonus issue.
The White House now has been trying to answer and respond to all the finger pointing that's going on about who exactly is to blame for this, who knew what and when.
Ed Henry has the latest on that -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, I've been talking to top administration officials who contend that the Treasury Department put that bonus provision in that Dana was reporting on because they were fearful that employees of AIG and other financial firms would eventually file lawsuits, lawsuits that they contend would have cost more than the bonuses themselves.
We'll see whether that argument holds up. But the key is that the White House is trying to turn the page on that whole AIG bonus controversy. They believe that the people here in California at this town hall tonight don't care about who knew what when. They're outraged about the bonuses but they're not concerned about the details.
And I can tell you that nobody at this town hall meeting asked about the details of the bonuses. Instead, they were talking about the fact that unemployment, foreclosure is very high here. That gave the President an opportunity to talk about his stimulus plan.
There are five road projects in this county that are going to benefit from that stimulus plan. They also asked questions about health care and education. Some of the priorities in the President's long-term budget; that gave him an opportunity as well to say there are going to be no easy answers as we dig out of this crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Some of these choices may be difficult. I won't lie to you. We can't keep on just printing money and saying we'll let our children worry about it. But we have to do it in a way that right now focuses on just getting people back on their feet, getting the economy running again, and then we're going to have to make some difficult choices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Ed, it's interesting, though. I mean, it's a little easy for the President, for the White House to say, "Look, it's not about -- people don't care about how this happened they just care about moving forward." You know, people can walk and chew gum and have many ideas in their mind at the same time.
People want answers about moving forward, how it's going to get better but also nothing will change unless we know how we got into this situation in the first place. So what is the White House saying about their role in getting Congress not to try to change this bonus structure?
Do they admit they played a role? I mean, Chris Dodd is saying someone from Treasury, you know, someone from Treasury called and said not to try to move forward on getting those bonuses changed as well.
HENRY: They do admit that Treasury played that role that Chris Dodd talked about but they insist that given the contract that was out there they couldn't have overturned it.
You've heard a lot of critics in both parties saying wait a second. You could have overturned these contracts if you wanted to. I think the bottom line question for this White House is will be outrage across the country spillover on this President?
So far, if you look at the latest CBS News Poll, it shows the President's approval rating is still at 62 percent basically where it's been for the first few weeks of the presidency.
So White House officials are saying in private, look, we don't believe this President is being damaged by it. That's at least their hope at this point, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ed Henry thanks for that.
I've got to tell you, there are a lot of people right now in Detroit, and right now in this bar here in Warren, Michigan right across from a GM facility who will say that Washington was very quick to have the auto industry and unions here renegotiate their contracts but when it comes to fancy companies and corporate bigwigs renegotiating contracts they seem much more reticent. In fact, seem to interfere in that process. That's the feeling here at least.
We're going to have more from Warren, Michigan.
Tonight, what's ahead for America's auto industry? And is there hope to sell more cars overseas in places like China?
Also ahead, Nadya Suleman bringing home two of her eight babies. She says she doesn't want a bailout. I wonder what she has to say about help from American taxpayers though there's certainly a lot of media companies seem to be throwing cash her way at this point anyway. And Natasha Richardson mourned tonight by family and fans. We'll have much more on the tragedy of her death and the remarkable life that she lived. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're outside Detroit tonight on the ROAD TO RESCUE, 12 Mile Road, in fact, just across from the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.
People here live, die by the credit market. GM literally invented car financing, today, in Washington, major action to help -- the Federal Reserve taking steps to pump massive amounts of money into the economy.
We're talking about "Your Money, Your Future."
Ali Velshi is here with details.
Ali, the Federal Reserve announced that it's injecting roughly a trillion dollars into the economy in order to get credit flowing again and try to revive the housing market. How -- how big a deal is this?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Huge. I mean, a trillion dollars; bigger than the entire stimulus plan. And look at the effect. Our friends at Zillow.com pointed this out to us today.
After the Federal Reserve made the announcement about the money that they're injecting in the system, mortgage rates in the United States went from 5 percent to 4.68 percent. Zillow.com tracks house prices and mortgage prices. That is a dramatic drop in mortgage rates, and that's exactly what the Federal Reserve had hoped.
They put money into the system. They're buying up -- allowing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to buy up mortgages from your bank, making your bank able to give more loans at a lower rate, and that's exactly the effect that it's had.
So a dramatic effect. A lot of people thinking that the Fed has done something that the White House hasn't been able to do. And it's been a very big deal in and amongst all of the other business news that we've been talking about, Anderson.
COOPER: You know, here in Detroit, Ali, just a few months ago the focus was the federal bailout money. You spoke, I know, to the Ford CEO, Alan Mullaly. What did he tell you about how the industry, the auto industry is holding up since they received their bailout money?
VELSHI: Well, Anderson, things are looking a little better on some fronts. Ford is doing OK. It never had to take any of that money. General Motors just announced last week that it won't need the next $2 billion that it was expecting from the government.
Chrysler is not in as good shape, and there's still a lot of concern about that company. And certainly, GM is not out of the woods. But Anderson, this all depends -- the plummeting in car sales has hit everybody, including non-American automakers. And it all depends on credit coming back in order to allow people to buy cars that they haven't been able to buy. And definitely, some of the actions taken by the Fed today should loosen up credit a little bit. But I'm still getting a pretty hopeful tune out of the automakers, Anderson.
COOPER: I've got a question from a member of our audience, Ken Bratz (ph), who's a model maker for GM. He's over here.
Hey, Ken, how you doing tonight?
KEN BRATZ, MODEL MAKER, GENERAL MOTORS: Good.
COOPER: What's your question for Ali?
BRATZ: I'm wondering how we can get the American public to start looking at U.S. autos again to purchase them.
COOPER: Ali, what about that?
VELSHI: Look, there was just such a long history of style deficiencies in U.S. autos, fuel efficiency and quality deficiencies. Now American automakers really have been working at that. General Motors, the Malibu, car of the year. I've driven it. It's a fantastic car. At Ford, great quality improvements. Again, Chrysler continues to have problems on the quality front.
But the issue is the quality is starting to be there for American cars. It's been there for a while. The problem is perception.
So Americans have to get into those cars, try them out and say they're getting good value for their money. That continues to be a major challenge for the automakers.
But good work to the auto workers there, who you're with, who have really, really made major strides in making American cars a lot better in terms of quality, Anderson.
COOPER: Let me just ask you another question. How upset does it make you -- I think, Ali Velshi, you could get a couple rounds of free drinks here in the bar tonight.
How upset does it make you when you see AIG executives giving out these bonuses? The government didn't seem to do anything to force them to renegotiate a contract. And yet the government seemed to have no problem forcing folks here to renegotiate contracts.
BRATZ: Well, they're going to try and do whatever they can do and...
COOPER: Does it make you angry, though?
BRATZ: It's angry and it's unfair. But we're all trying to save our jobs. And it's -- nobody wants to give up, but some of us have to give up.
COOPER: We'll see what happens in Washington with this AIG thing. Ken thanks so much. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.
We're going to have a lot more ahead here from Warren, Michigan.
We'll also take a look at Bernie Madoff, his assets. Exactly what does this guy have? Where is his money hidden? And how much of it can the authorities actually get and give back to people who are suffering?
And we'll have more on the remarkable life of Natasha Richardson. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're just outside Detroit, which was once the fourth largest city in the country; it's now slipped to 11. Its population now less than a million; Detroit has fallen far from its flush days.
Home foreclosures up nearly 6 percent in the last month, compared to January; up almost 30 percent from one year ago. Those foreclosures mean hardships and heartaches for families and pain for the local economy.
Some, though, are finding hope. People now practicing the art, literally, of trying to turn the city around.
COOPER (voice-over): At first glance, this gritty neighborhood in Detroit's north side might not seem like the ideal place to invest. Abandoned buildings line the streets, burned out, boarded up.
But Mitch Cope and his wife, Gina Reichert, believe this is the perfect place to create art.
(on camera) What was it that attracted you to the neighborhood?
MITCH COPE, ARTIST: First, the house, because it was old posh Delhi (ph), and then also we started to learn the -- that our neighbors are Bangladeshis, Ukrainian, Polish. And there's this great group of cultures in the neighborhood.
COOPER (voice over): They moved here three years ago and have encouraged a growing number of artists to settle here, as well.
GINA REICHERT, ARCHITECT: We started to realize that the prices of other houses in the neighborhood were really dropping.
COOPER (on camera): That is an understatement. The beginning of this year the average price for a home sold in Detroit was just $7,500, and in this neighborhood, properties are even cheaper. An artist can find space to live and work for just a few hundred dollars.
(voice-over) Mitch and Gina bought this property for only $1,900. They're renovating it with environmentally-conscious materials and green energy. COPE: You can take a house like this that's so cheap and put all your money into the power system and still have a house that will be off the grid, totally self-sustaining for under a hundred thousand.
COOPER: Mitch also hopes to create a community art center where local kids can plant in the garden and learn about art.
ZEB SMITH, ARTIST: It's a vibrant neighborhood. There's a lot -- there's a lot going on.
COOPER: Artists Zeb and Corinne Smith bought this foreclosed house just last month. They paid less than $600 for it.
Z. SMITH: I think we saw it as a possibility to do what we wanted to without the constraints of having to make the house resalable or make a profit on it.
COOPER: They hope to move into their new home this summer and already are considering buying a foreclosed property across the street.
CORINNE SMITH, ARTIST: If I could get that house that would be really, really great.
COOPER: The artists coming here know they won't be able to revive this community overnight, but they do hope to make a positive change in the lives of their neighbors.
COPE: There's enough artists here that are interested in this public kind of work that I think the neighborhood can be a completely much more open space. You see more of the families that are here maybe coming out more and kids playing in the street more.
COOPER: A voice of hope, a unique vision for a community devastated by recession.
COOPER: Well, people adapt, and as we're seeing all across the country on this road, they innovate.
Let's dig deeper now with our innovation consultant, Frans Johansson. He's the author of "The Medici Effect." He's been working with the state of Michigan to develop ways to use innovation to survive these tough economic times.
Frans, I know you've been doing this work in Michigan, trying to help people innovate. What is the answer for this state which is so reliant on an industry that's in so much trouble?
FRANS JOHANSSON, AUTHOR, "THE MEDICI EFFECT": I think it's very important to realize that although the car industry -- and I certainly hope that the whole industry can dig itself out of the hole that it's in.
But going forward, the future for any place, really, in the United States might not necessarily be all in manufacturing. It is important to actually diversify away from that.
And the state of Michigan has lots of good people with skills. If they can actually connect these people with each other and encourage the growth of new business, then they're setting themselves up for growth in the future.
COOPER: I want to bring in a member of our audience who's here with us in Warren. Angelique Strong Marks (ph) is an attorney here in the Detroit area.
What's your question?
ANGELIQUE STRONG MARKS, DETROIT RESIDENT: Hi. I have a successful career practicing law here in metro Detroit area. Recently, my employer ordered a liquidation. My question is, for professionals who are seeking employment who want to stay in this area, what is your advice? And if the simple answer is move, then how can I reasonably survive (ph)?
JOHANSSON: OK. So one answer is to move, but the -- if you're not interested in doing that, I think that the most important piece you have to look at is how can you reinvent yourself?
I talk to people all over the country, and they have skills. They have hobbies. They have interests that might be even outside of what it is that they do in business. And -- and they get laid off. They can look at how can I actually combine these outside interests with the skills that I have in my hobbies?
I just talked to a person in Boston. He worked in the health- care industry. He was laid off. He's been very interested in putting together dinners and throwing parties. He said, "How can I combine these two areas?" He did that, and he created an event that had about 600 people attending, a conference for health-care professionals. It was phenomenal. And he was able to do it because of his passion for both health care and putting together dinners and throwing parties.
COOPER: Yet again, innovation the key. Frans Johansson, thanks very much.
Angelique, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Good luck to you.
Coming up President Obama forecasts more hard times ahead, and the auto industry will be no exception. But there are winners, just as there are losers in this recession. We'll take a look at who's up, who's down, and where the opportunities are now, next.
And family and friends mourn the death of Natasha Richardson. We'll have more on the Tony winner's career and the injuries that ended her life, and her truly remarkable life. All ahead tonight.
COOPER: These are tough times in Detroit, no doubt about that, and across the country, frankly. You see it everywhere. We've seen it everywhere we've gone so far -- Los Angeles, New Orleans and tonight here in Warren, Michigan.
President Obama says hard times are also a chance for great opportunity but do those words really hold up to the battered transportation industry? Tom Foreman is back tonight with more winners and losers in the economic crisis, including some that might surprise you -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, they really might. A lot of people first became aware of the seriousness of our economic problems when gas prices went crazy, and now transportation is rolling out some stark winners and losers as a result of all this.
The biggest losers, you're right there, Anderson; automakers losing billions in sales because people just can't afford a new car. The winners? Well, people who help you share cars instead.
A great example is Zip Car, a service that lets you pay to use a clean, gassed-up, fully insured car. You drive as long as you want and hand them back over. You pick them up where they're left in special parking spots all over your city. A quarter million people are now doing this.
Here's a surprise loser. The oil business. Yes, they're still making buckets of money, but we reduced the number of miles we drove almost 4 percent last year.
And the winner? Buses, subways, light rail systems, all reporting more riders, almost 11 million trips in public transit in 2008. That's the most in 52 years.
And one more loser here, airlines. Last year the big names of even several of the low-cost carriers offered fewer flights, saw fewer passengers, and dropped employees, too.
And the winner could be railroads. The stimulus package contained $8 billion to build or improve high speed rail service. So the road to the future, Anderson, might be on rails.
COOPER: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks very much.
Coming up, a new name and face in the Bernie Madoff fraud story; Madoff's accountant was arrested today after turning himself in. Details on that.
First Randi Kaye joins us with the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The military is phasing out its controversial stop-loss policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announcing today the military would use cash payments of $500 a month to retain troops. Now under current policy, the military can simply hold troops beyond the end of their enlistment.
Bernie Madoff's long-time accountant arrested on fraud charges today and released after posting bond. Prosecutors say 49-year-old David Friehling rubber-stamped Madoff's books for 17 years, failing to conduct even basic audits that would have exposed the multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme.
Also on Wall Street more bonus controversy, this time at Bank of America. A judge ordering B of A to disclose information about bonuses given to Merrill Lynch employees just before it bought the brokerage firm in January. New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo is investigating whether the companies failed to provide proper disclosures about the bonuses.
Octuplet mom Nadya Suleman brought two of her eight infants home today. The baby boys arrived at their new La Habra, California, home amidst a frenzy of news cameras -- no surprise there -- helicopters, the chaotic scene courtesy of RadarOnline. The other six babies, by the way, remain at the hospital, where we are told, Anderson, they continue to improve.
COOPER: All right, Randi. Thanks.
Still more to come on the ROAD TO RESCUE: how does President Obama intend to deal with the righteous outrage over bonuses for AIG executives?
And a star is gone tonight, Natasha Richardson taken off life support, succumbing to head injuries suffered in an accident on a Canadian ski slope. We're going to have much more on the Tony-winner's life, her family, and her career, still ahead.
COOPER: Tonight we're remembering actress, Natasha Richardson. Her death tonight following a seemingly minor injury suffered on a Quebec ski slope, leaving, of course, her family devastated and her husband Liam Neeson, her two young sons, and millions of fans around the world asking why.
What we know beyond a doubt was that Natasha Richardson was gifted and a beautiful actress, equally at home on stage and screen. "Entertainment Weekly" managing editor Jess Cagle joins me now with a look back on Richardson's career.
Jess, clearly, you were astounded, as everybody else is, as we all are. When you think of Natasha Richardson, what do you think of?
JESS CAGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": Well, you remember this incredibly fun-loving, sweet, down-to-earth woman. Those of us -- those of us who knew her at all or had ever come in contact with her were always impressed by the fact that she came from this incredible family and had this amazing life. And yet she was so very normal and sweet and fun to be around.
COOPER: She was also, I mean, a knockout, both -- not only just how she looked but her personality. I said at the top of the program that, you know, a lot of people had said when they would enter a room, you know, they light up a room. She knocked them dead in the room. I mean, she, you know, she knocked people's socks off. She had this magnetism. She had an electricity which, the first time I met her, I was just blown away by her. CAGLE: You really were. Everybody said the same thing about her. And that's what also made her such a great stage actress. She was so luminous on screen.
The amazing thing is that she came across that way, and she had such presence without any kind of grandiosity or nonsense. She was just, you know -- she was just this great lady.
COOPER: And the love of her life, Liam Neeson, obviously, and her two kids, who she was extraordinarily devoted to. You don't see that in Hollywood a lot. I mean, a lot of folks have kids and stuff, and they talk about them publicly. But Natasha Richardson really tried -- praised -- or kept a hold on her privacy and protected the privacy of her kids. And that's something that, I think, really set her apart.
CAGLE: She not only protected their privacy, but when she and Liam Neeson would talk about alternating their schedules so one of them could always be with the kids, they really meant it. And they worked very, very hard to maintain this kind of normal life for their kids.
I think that in Hollywood, Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson were sort of an exotic couple because they lived in New York, in upstate New York and in Manhattan. They had great taste. They were true artists, but they weren't arty. They were just these -- they were these people that Hollywood, I think, was sort of in awe of.
COOPER: She also had a remarkable sort of deep, throaty laugh that -- and she was very quick to laugh, and laugh I think, at herself and sort of the foibles of celebrity as much as anything else.
In terms of her career, it was really on Broadway that she first came to prominence, certainly, in New York at least.
CAGLE: She did. And in '93 she did "Anne Christie," this play where she actually met Liam Neeson, and that really -- really catapulted her. She did a legendary Sally Bowles in "Cabaret" a few years later. Those of us who saw that will never forget it. I mean, it was -- it was one of the great moments that any of us will have in the theater in our lives.
But she did amazing work on screen. I mean, you know, long before that she did Patty Hearst in a Paul Schrader film, and she really sought out these incredible characters in movies based on the works of Margaret Atwood and Tennessee Williams and Ian McEwan. She really chose her roles carefully, and she cared -- she cared much more about being an actress than being a star.
However, she, you know, she wasn't precious about it because she did "Maid in Manhattan" and "The Parent Trap." And "The Parent Trap" is something that probably most people will remember her from.
COOPER: For those who were lucky enough to know her and who loved her, her friends and her family, and even those who admired her who didn't know her, the world certainly seems a darker place tonight.
Jess Cagle, appreciate you being with us. CAGLE: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
We will have more on Natasha Richardson in a moment.
COOPER: For our "Shot" tonight, we just want to leave you with a few seconds of Natasha Richardson from her 1998 Broadway play "Cabaret." We just heard Jess Cagle talk about her performance in it. She won a Tony for her portrayal of Sally Bowles. Here's just a brief glimpse of Natasha Richardson onstage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC: Natasha Richardson as Sally Bowles in "Cabaret.")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Natasha Richardson has died at the age of 45.
That does it for "360." Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow night.
"LARRY KING" starts right now.