Episode
September 09, 2016 at 5:36 am

Tonight, this November, voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will all decide whether to join ranks with states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington and legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Meanwhile, Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and Missouri will decide whether to legalize the prescription use of the drug for medical purposes. New York passed marijuana-use legislation in 2014 with the Compassionate Care Act, which legalized medical marijuana. One activist at the forefront of marijuana legislation is the former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura. He joins us to discuss his book, Marijuana Manifesto, and makes the case for legalizing cannabis.

Next, as the 15th anniversary of the terrible attack on the World Trade Center quickly approaches, we take a look at the 9/11 Memorial, a steadfast tribute to those killed and the brave men and women who served the city that day. Today, a Freedom Tower now stands as a testament to the resiliency of the city, boasting an expansive view of the island, exhibits that educate attendees about the city as well as the building itself and several options for dining. But one of the building’s most engaging attractions may be one of the city’s least known and most amazing features: an elevator that offers a time lapse view of New York City. Starting at the very beginning of New York’s history in the year 1500, the elevator ride takes us through hundreds of years to the present. Visitors can watch the skyline appear and change as the city grows before their eyes. We discuss the inside story of the elevator with Michael Arad, designer of the 9/11 Memorial, “Reflecting Absence,” and New York Times reporter David Dunlap, who covered this amazing ride through New York’s history.

Then, Gucci is one of the top names in fashion, synonymous with wealth, prestige, and class. Although Gucci won’t be holding a show here in New York during this Fashion Week, we take a moment to remember the visionary who transformed his father’s small Florentine luggage company into a globally known symbol for high fashion. Aldo Gucci, despite his business success, harbored a secret in his personal life: his mistress Bruna Palombo and their love child, Patricia. Patricia Gucci joins us to discuss her book, In the Name of Gucci, a Memoir, where she chronicles the untold love story between her parents and details her own personal relationship with her father.

Finally, where would you go if you wanted to find the greenest block in Brooklyn? Every year the Brooklyn Botanic Garden sets out to settle that question with its “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” competition. This year, out of over 150 entrants, the winner for 2016 is the 300 East 25th Street Block Association in Flatbush. We went to see for ourselves just how green it was and discovered far more than what we expected for this NYC borough.

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September 08, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Where would you go if you wanted to find the greenest block in Brooklyn? Every year the Brooklyn Botanic Garden sets out to settle that question with its “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” competition. This year, out of over 150 entrants, the winner for 2016 is the 300 East 25th Street Block Association in Flatbush. We went to see for ourselves just how green it was and discovered far more than what we expected for this NYC borough.

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Episode
September 03, 2016 at 5:52 am

Tonight, rent increases are a fact of life here in New York City but a proposed hike in Queens is being called excessive, even for the world of New York real estate. The landlord in this case is Amtrak, which rents out space owned by the railroad under the Hell Gate Bridge in Astoria. A handful of homeowners there have been using the land as their backyards for generations, paying a fee of around $25 every year. Now the railroad wants to raise the rent and not just by a couple hundred dollars. For some, the rent could go up to over $26,000 a year. The railroad says these lease holders have not seen rent hikes in more than 70 years, and they will be paying a fraction of the fair market rental rates. Our guest tonight does not see it that way. Congressman Joe Crowley is the representative for the 14th district, which includes this Queens neighborhood, and he has intervened on behalf of the homeowners. He joins us with an update on the situation.

Next, Billy Crystal continues his conversation with baseball legend Joe Torre and his wife, Ali. After finally opening up about his abusive childhood at the hands of his father, Joe Torre created the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation. The organization focuses on educating kids about the effects of domestic violence and abuse in order to give them hope that they are not alone. In this second installment, Billy, Joe, and Ali reflect back on Joe’s career on and off the field and how the lessons of his past has helped him communicate with his players.

Finally, Tony Danza is perhaps best known for starring in beloved and long-running television shows, Taxi and Who’s the Boss. But his career goes beyond what you might’ve seen on the small screen. Danza not only established himself as a Broadway star in hits like The Producers and A View from the Bridge, but also as a cabaret song and dance man. Tony’s latest cabaret act, Standards & Stories debuted to a sold out audience at the famous Carlyle Hotel in New York City. The show received rave reviews, and he joins us to discuss its success ahead of his performance at Michael Feinstein’s 54 Below on September 8th and 9th.

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Episode
September 02, 2016 at 5:28 am

Tonight, he’s made you chuckle in beloved film classics like The Princess Bride, City Slickers, and When Harry Met Sally…, but now Emmy and Tony award winner Billy Crystal takes the anchor chair tonight for a very special interview with baseball legend Joe Torre.

Joe Torre may be responsible for one of the most successful periods in recent Yankees history, but until 1995, his childhood remained a relative mystery. Joe’s father was a respected NYPD detective, a pillar in the community and a symbol of safety in their neighborhood, but behind the closed doors of his Brooklyn home, it was anything but safe. Decades later, Torre began to open up about the abuse he and his family endured, which led to the creation of the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation. Tonight, Joe and his wife, Ali Torre, discuss Joe’s childhood and how their foundation works to give hope to those suffering from domestic abuse at home.

Next, without a doubt, one of the biggest fads of the summer has been Pokemon GO, a mobile app that brings the animated Japanese anime to life. Since the app’s release in early July, users have had the opportunity to virtually catch and collect Pokemon in their communities and around the world. It sounds harmless enough, but a report by New York State Senators Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino found that many of these Pokemon wound up popping up at addresses of known sex offenders in New York City. New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein joins us to discuss bills he and other lawmakers are sponsoring and how he hopes to help kids still have fun playing Pokemon GO and similar games while ensuring their safety.

Finally, Huma Abedin may be making headlines as the now estranged and embarrassed wife of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, but she is not just the woman who stood by his side through his first two sexting scandals as well as his 2013 campaign for mayor of New York City. Abedin is one of the top aides and closest confidantes to Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton and an instrumental part of the campaign trail. She’s been described as the candidate’s second daughter and has even stood in for Clinton at several campaign-related events. Even though she lives and works so close to the public eye, the question still remains: Who, exactly, is Huma Abedin? Vanity Fair Contributing Editor William D. Cohan joins us to shine some light on the story behind this enigmatic political figure.

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Episode
August 27, 2016 at 5:30 am

Tonight, the use of excessive force by the police, particularly in relation to Black Americans, has been one of the most pressing local and national issues in recent memory. Now, New York State Assemblyman Michael Blake is making headlines as he files a formal complaint against the New York City Police Department. The Assemblyman claims he was grabbed and forcefully shoved by an officer while trying to defuse a street confrontation at a community event in his district last July. A superior officer intervened, realizing Blake was an elected official, but NYPD Commissioner William Bratton refused to publicly apologize to Blake for the incident. As Commissioner Bratton steps down and passes the torch to James P. O’Neill, Assemblyman Blake joins us to discuss how he’d like to use the transition in a new strategy to improve the relationship between the police and the community.

Next, millions of fish washed up along the shore in Keansburg, New Jersey, which is causing residents to worry about what happened below the surface that could have caused this devastating effect. The community is certainly not benefiting from the fishy situation. Local businesses are usually bustling with end-of-the-summer activities as families try to get in their last chances at fun in the sun before school starts. This year, these beaches look different. Pix-11 News’ Marvin Scott has the story, and he’ll give us the details tonight.

And finally, pizza guru Colin Atrophy Hagendorf tasted more than 400 slices of Manhattan pizza in search of the city’s best pie and recounts his journey in “Slice Harvester: A Memoir In Pizza.” Hagendorf tell us where he found his favorite slice and explains how he discovered it.

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August 26, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Millions of fish washed up along the shore in Keansburg, New Jersey, which is causing residents to worry about what happened below the surface that could have caused this devastating effect. The community is certainly not benefiting from the fishy situation. Local businesses are usually bustling with end-of-the-summer activities as families try to get in their last chances at fun in the sun before school starts. This year, these beaches look different. Pix-11 News’ Marvin Scott has the story, and he’ll give us the details tonight.

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Episode
August 26, 2016 at 5:30 am

Tonight, late last year, an unusually high number of babies were born in Brazil with abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly. The birth defect soon became linked with a mosquito-borne virus called Zika. Since the initial outbreak, the Zika virus has been named a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. But Zika isn’t the first public health emergency in recent memory. In 2014, the world watched in horror as the deadly Ebola virus ripped through West Africa, leaving 10,000 dead. Both viruses are examples of zoonotic diseases, or spillover infections, a term used to define diseases that originate and spread from animals. This is exacerbated by the fact that as our population grows, we are forced to have greater interactions with the wildlife that surrounds us. Veterinarian, epidemiologist, and Associate Vice President of Conservation Medicine at EcoHealth Alliance Dr. Jonathan Epstein joins us to talk about these diseases and his role in a new PBS documentary, Spillover– Zika, Ebola & Beyond.

Then, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then the pictures in this project make up a lifetime story. The New York Times unearthed never before seen images from Black history drawn from old negatives buried in their archives. Once found, editors combed through 5 million photographs and 300,000 negatives to culminate in a project titled “Unpublished Black History.” During Black History Month this year, The New York Times ran pieces of the project with an explanation of their backstories and historical significance. We will speak to two of the editors on the project, New York Times’ photo editor Darcy Eveleigh and reporter Rachel Swarns to learn more about it.

And finally, you know her for her hits like “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “9 to 5, and now legendary singer, songwriter and philanthropist Dolly Parton is back on MetroFocus! This time, she is out traveling the country to promote her 43rd studio album Pure and Simple, in her largest North American tour in 25 years. She took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her life, decade-spanning career, and her new music that is selling out shows around the nation.

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Clip
August 25, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Late last year, an unusually high number of babies were born in Brazil with abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly. The birth defect soon became linked with a mosquito-borne virus called Zika. Since the initial outbreak, the Zika virus has been named a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. But Zika isn’t the first public health emergency in recent memory. In 2014, the world watched in horror as the deadly Ebola virus ripped through West Africa, leaving 10,000 dead. Both viruses are examples of zoonotic diseases, or spillover infections, a term used to define diseases that originate and spread from animals. This is exacerbated by the fact that as our population grows, we are forced to have greater interactions with the wildlife that surrounds us. Veterinarian, epidemiologist, and Associate Vice President of Conservation Medicine at EcoHealth Alliance Dr. Jonathan Epstein joins us to talk about these diseases and his role in a new PBS documentary, Spillover– Zika, Ebola & Beyond.

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Episode
August 24, 2016 at 5:30 am

Tonight, the Brooklyn Bridge may be getting some major upgrades as city officials explore the idea of expanding the promenade. In recent years, the bridge has earned a reputation for being congested with people. Between tourists, speeding cyclists, and busy commuters, the 133 year-old landmark isn’t that easy to cross. The issue has caught the attention of the city’s Department of Transportation, who are trying to come up with a solution to the problem. Vin Barone, a transportation reporter for amNewYork, has been watching the story and joins us to explain the latest push to fix the Brooklyn Bridge.

Next, an investigation between local and federal authorities led to the take down of a large-scale racketeering conspiracy ranging from Springfield, Massachusetts, to South Florida, and involved members from four of New York’s five Mafia families. And no, we’re not talking the Sopranos. But what does the modern Mafia look like? Author and journalist for ganglandnews.com, Jerry Capeci tells us about the power of the modern day Mafia, a restaurant on Arthur Avenue that served as an alleged hub for criminal activity, and whether or not the authorities have had any success in cutting New York’s Mafia back.

Then, when Rutgers University joined the Big Ten conference, a collection of universities that organizes intercollegiate athletics, perhaps the most important goal was to bring in big bucks to New Jersey’s largest public university. But going big time in intercollegiate sports has actually cost Rutgers millions, and some argue that it has come at the expense of academics. Steve Adubato, co-anchor of New Jersey Capitol Report, weighs in on whether this prestigious university can remain a player in big college sports without compromising its academic reputation.

Finally, is it possible to be lonely in New York City? Surprisingly, even with 8.4 million people surrounding you, the reality is that human connection is not guaranteed. The case of 72 year-old George Bell exemplifies this notion. Bell died alone in his Jackson Heights apartment during the summer last year, but no one knew exactly when. The circumstances of his death were so troubling, they landed on the front of The New York Times. But is loneliness as distressing as we make it out to be? Olivia Liang is the author of a book that delves into that issue, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. She joins us to explain her interest in this subject and share how her thoughts on isolation changed through the course of writing this book.

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Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, the Anderson Family Fund, Judy and Josh Weston, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Dorothy Schiff Endowment for News and Public Affairs Programming, Jody and John Arnhold, Rosalind P. Walter, the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, Laura and Jim Ross, and Shailaja and Umesh Nagarkatte.

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