TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS

A deadly crash on the tracks of the L.I.R.R. left three people dead, several more injured, and lingering questions. Councilman Jumaane Williams is now the New York Public Advocate, beating 16 opponents. What cemented the win? Congestion pricing and management reforms are just parts of Gov. Cuomo’s 10-point plan to radically transform and fix the MTA. “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent Mo Rocca takes his obsession with obituaries to new heights.

Aired on February 27, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS' -- A DEADLY CRASH ON THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD TRACKS.

THREE DEAD, TWO INJURED AND QUESTIONS REMAIN.

WE HAVE THE LATEST ON THIS DEVELOPING STORY.

> COUNCIL MEMBER JUMAANE WILLIAMS DEFEATS 16 OPPONENTS AND BECOMES OUR CITY'S NEW PUBLIC ADVOCATE.

MY NAME IS JUMAANE WILLIAMS.

I'M A PUBLIC ADVOCATE IN NEW YORK CITY.

WHAT MADE WILLIAMS STAND OUT FROM THE CROWDED FIELD?

ANALYSIS IS AHEAD.

> CONGESTION PRICING AND MANAGEMENT REFORMS JUST TWO ELEMENTS OF GOVERNOR CUOMO'S TEN-POINT PLAN TO RADICALLY TRANSFORM AND FIX THE MTA.

> AND CBS SUNDAY MORNING WITH MO ROCCA IS OBSESSED WITH THE OBITUARIES AND THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO PASSED.

HE'S HERE WITH HIS FAVORITE MOBITUARIES WHICH WE GUARANTEE WILL BE A LIVELY CONVERSATION.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ ROSALIND P. WALTER BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY -- CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA.

YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G SERVING CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.

THE TRAIN THAT WAS LEAVING HEADING EASTBOUND AND THE VEHICLE COLLIDED.

AT THAT POINT, A WESTBOUND TRAIN TRAVELING UP TOWARDS WEST BURY STATION IMPACTED WITH THE VEHICLE.

THE VEHICLE WAS PUSHED WESTBOUND AND THAT'S WHEN THE FRONT TWO CARS ON THE WESTBOUND TRAIN CAME OFF THE RAILS.

GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THAT WAS LONG ISLAND RAILROAD PRESIDENT PHILIP ANG ON LAST NIGHT'S CRASH INVOLVING TWO TRAINS AND VEHICLE IN LONG ISLAND THAT LEFT THREE DEAD, SEVERAL INJURED AND MANY WITH UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.

THE VEHICLE CARRYING THREE PASSENGERS WAS TRYING TO BEAT THE GATE WHEN IT WAS STRUCK AND THE SCENE WAS REPORTEDLY SO BAD AUTHORITIES SAY THEY COULD NEITHER IDENTIFY THE VICTIMS NEAR THE TYPE OF VEHICLE.

THE COLLISION SET OFF A DEADLY CASCADE EFFECT THAT DERAILED THE WESTBOUND TRAIN FILLED WITH OVER 800 PASSENGERS AND SENT IT CRASHING INTO THE CONCRETE STATION.

NOW QUESTIONS REMAIN AROUND WHETHER THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD AND THE MTA WERE PREPARED FOR THIS TYPE OF TRAGEDY AND WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF PASSENGERS' SAFETY ON THE RAILS?

JOINING ME NOW WITH DETAILS ON THIS DEVELOPING STORY IS GREG MOCKER.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

GOOD TO BE BACK.

SO IN ADDITION TO WHAT I ALREADY SAID IN THE INTRO, WHAT IS IT THAT WE KNOW OF WHAT TOOK PLACE?

WE'RE NEVER PREPARED FOR ANY KIND OF HUMAN TRAGEDIES.

THAT CAME UP AT THE REGULAR MONTHLY BOARD MEETING WHICH I WAS JUST IN.

WHERE IT BEGAN FOR A MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR THE THREE PEOPLE WHO WERE KILLED.

THEY HAD A COMMITTEE REPORT WHERE THEY ALSO -- AND TALKED ABOUT THE TRAGEDY OF THE LIVES BEING LOST.

THEY RE-EMPHASIZED THE EDUCATION.

I CAN'T SAY IT ENOUGH TIMES.

I CAN'T THINK OF A REASON TO GO AROUND A RAILROAD CROSSING.

THOSE EVENTS, THAT VEHICLE THERE, THE REASON THAT THE DRIVER MADE THAT CALL, THAT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN BROUGHT OUT YET.

THERE WASN'T EVEN A PENDING NOTIFICATION TO THE FAMILY, JUST BECAUSE OF THE DAMAGE THAT WAS DONE BECAUSE OF THE VEHICLE BEING HIT BY TWO TRAINS ESSENTIALLY.

THEN THE MTA AND THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT GREAT CROSSING, THEY STEPPED UP IN THE EDUCATION CAMPAIGN.

LAST YEAR, TWO YEARS AGO, THEY CHANGED IT GOING INTO SCHOOLS.

I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAD A CHANCE TO ACTUALLY SEE THE CRASH SITE AND HOW MUCH DAMAGE IS IT THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT?

EVEN JUST TO THE PHYSICAL TRAIN STATION BECAUSE OF COURSE I BELIEVE IT WAS THE WESTBOUND TRAIN THAT ENDED UP HITTING THE CONCRETE BARRIER PART OF THE TRAIN STATION THERE.

AND DEMOLISHED THE PLATFORM WHERE PEOPLE STAND.

IT MELTED IT.

IT -- AND IT MOVED THROUGH.

ON TO THE FURTHER PART OF THE PLATFORM.

THAT WESTBOUND ONE WAS GONE.

I DON'T BELIEVE IT WAS STOPPING THERE.

THERE ARE LIMITS FOR SPEED TO BE AT A CROSSING.

AND UP LIRR SAID THAT THE CROSSING WAS OPERATING AND THE TRAINS WERE DOING WHAT THEY NEEDED TO BE DOING.

BUT IT JUST PULVERIZED IT AND THE TRACK -- I HEARD IN THE MEETING THIS MORNING WAS TWISTED AND TURNED AROUND.

THAT'S COMPLICATING THE FIX.

NOT ONLY DO THEY TAKE THE CARS OFF AND RERAIL THEM TO MOVE THEM OUT, YOU HAVE THE CRANE THERE DOING THAT.

THEN THE REPLACEMENT OF THE TRACK, OF THE THIRD RAIL THERE AS WELL, THERE'S DESTRUCTION.

IT'S A MESS THERE WHICH IS GOING TO LAST IN TO CERTAINLY THE -- THROUGH THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, LISTEN, GREG, WE'D LOVE TO HAVE YOU BACK TO GIVE US ANOTHER UPDATE ONCE MORE INFORMATION COMES OUT ABOUT THIS.

BUT THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR REPORTING ON THIS TRAGIC ACCIDENT THAT'S TAKEN PLACE AND OF COURSE WHAT THE INVESTIGATION WILL EVENTUALLY DETERMINE.

STAY SAFE OUT THERE.

THANKS.

> BUT I KNOW THAT AS A YOUNG BLACK BOY SOMEWHERE WHO WAS YOUNG, HE'S TRYING TO FIND HIS SPACE IN THE WORLD.

NOBODY KNOWS HE CRIES HIMSELF TO SLEEP SOMETIMES.

NOBODY KNOWS HOW MUCH HE MISSES HIS FATHER.

NOBODY KNOWS WHAT HE'S GOING THROUGH.

YES.

YES.

AND YOU HAVE TO HIDE IT AND YOU CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT.

BUT I'VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY TO THAT YOUNG MAN AND I THINK ABOUT IT VERY OFTEN.

MY NAME IS JUMAANE WILLIAMS AND I'M A PUBLIC ADVOCATE OF NEW YORK CITY.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

IT'S A MOMENT THAT STILL HAS THE CITY TALKING TONIGHT.

JUMAANE WILLIAMS WAS BOTH EMOTIONAL AND UNGUARDED AS HE ADDRESSED NEW YORKERS FOLLOWING HIS DECISIVE VICTORY IN THE CROWDED SPECIAL ELECTION FOR PUBLIC ADVOCATE.

HE TOUCHED ON EVERYTHING FROM HELPING THE CITY'S MOST DISADVANTAGED TO HIS OWN STRUGGLES WITH MENTAL HEALTH.

HE WON ABOUT 33% OF THE VOTE DURING TUESDAY'S ELECTION HOLDING OFF QUEEN'S COUNCILMAN ERIC ULRICH AND MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO WHO FINISHED SECOND AND THIRD OUT OF 17 CANDIDATES ON THE BALLOT.

WILLIAMS, A BROOKLYN CITY COUNCILMAN IS FIRST IN LINE TO BECOME MAYOR IF de BLASIO CANNOT CONTINUE.

SO WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE CITY'S NEXT PUBLIC ADVOCATE?

FOR ANSWERS I'M JOINED NOW BY CITY AND STATE POLITICS REPORTER JEFF COLTON WHO WAS THERE LAST NIGHT IN BROOKLYN COVERING JUMAANE WILLIAMS' VICTORY.

JEFF, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON.

TELL US ABOUT THE VICTORY, HOW WAS THE CROWD'S REACTION?

HOW DID IT GO DOWN?

SECOND TIME IS THE CHARM FOR JUMAANE WILLIAMS.

HE WAS AT CAFE OMAR IN FLATBUSH, THE SAME LOCATION WHERE HE CELEBRATED HIS -- MAYBE NOT CELEBRATED, BUT HE WAS THERE ON ELECTION NIGHT FOR THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR'S RACE BACK IN SEPTEMBER 2018.

YES.

HE LOST THAT RACE AGAINST LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL.

HE CAME BACK TO THE SAME SPOT THIS TIME AND HE WON.

IT WAS A BIG CELEBRATION, CARIBBEAN MUSIC WAS PLAYING THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT AND LIKE YOU MENTIONED JUMAANE GOT EMOTIONAL IN THE SPEECH.

IT WAS AN IMPRESSIVE SHOW OF JUST EMOTION IN THIS KIND OF SPEECH THAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T OPEN UP.

USUALLY I'LL BE HONEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES ARE PRETTY BORING.

THIS WAS SOMETHING SPECIAL AND THE PARTY WAS SOMETHING SPECIAL.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, YOU MENTIONED -- I MEAN, JUST TALKING ABOUT GOING BACK TO THE SAME SPOT AND CARIBBEAN MUSIC PLAYING.

IT SPEAKS TO THE FACT THAT IDENTITY POLITICS DID PLAY A BIG ROLE IN THIS CAMPAIGN AND I'M WONDERING IF YOU CAN TELL ME WHO GOT THEIR BASE OUT AND WHO WAS VOTING FOR WHO THIS TIME AROUND.

ABSOLUTELY.

IF YOU GO BY BOROUGH, JUMAANE WILLIAMS TOTALLY CLEANED UP IN BROOKLYN AND HEN WHO THE MOST OF THE VOTES IN MANHATTAN.

OTHER CANDIDATES WON THE OTHER BOROUGH, STATEN ISLAND QUEENS AND THE BRONX, BUT JUMAANE HAD A SOLID SHOWING IN ALL OF THEM.

REALLY HE BUILT QUITE A COALITION HERE.

IT HELPED THAT HE RAN FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR LAST YEAR.

HE GOT MANY OF THE SAME SUPPORTERS TO BACK HIM THEN TO JOIN HIS CAMPAIGN THIS TIME.

I'M TALKING ABOUT THE WORKING FAMILIES PARTY, THE PROGRESSIVE GROUP.

'THE NEW YORK TIMES' ENDORSED HIM THEN AND ENDORSED HIM IN THIS RACE.

GROUPS LIKE MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT GAIL BREWER BACKED HIM.

SHE'S VERY INFLUENTIAL IN GETTING VOTES IN MANHATTAN.

IT WAS QUITE A COALITION FOR WILLIAMS.

OF COURSE HE'S A BROOKLYNITE.

HIS STRONGEST BASE OF SUPPORT IS ALWAYS THAT BLACK COMMUNITY IN BROOKLYN.

WELL, THEN ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE IS OF COURSE ERIC ULRICH WHO A -- A REPUBLICAN, ALSO HAD A VERY GOOD SHOWING.

I MEAN, HE CAME IN SECOND.

THAT'S RIGHT.

WELL, HE WON IN QUEENS AND STATEN ISLAND WHICH IS YOU KNOW QUITE IMPRESSIVE FOR A REPUBLICAN IN NEW YORK CITY.

I THINK DEMOCRATS OUTNUMBER REPUBLICANS SOMETHING LIKE 6-1.

BUT THAT WAS ACTUALLY ULRICH'S STRATEGY HERE.

BECAUSE THE 17-MEMBER FIELD WAS I BELIEVE THERE WERE 15 DEMOCRATS, HE WAS HOPING THAT EVEN BY WINNING JUST THE REPUBLICANS, HE'D HAVE A STRONG SHOWING.

SURE ENOUGH IT WORKED, IT DIDN'T WORK ENOUGH FOR HIM TO ACTUALLY WIN THE RACE.

ALL RIGHT.

SO NOW THAT WE HAVE JUMAANE MOVING INTO THIS POSITION WHICH OF COURSE AGAIN THERE WILL BE ANOTHER PRIMARY COMING UP IN THE SUMMER SO WE'LL BE DISCUSSING THIS AGAIN.

BUT AT LEAST RIGHT NOW HE HAS BEEN CRITICAL OF MAYOR de BLASIO.

DO WE HAVE ANY INDICATION OF WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP TO SEE BETWEEN THE TWO?

WE SHOULD SEE PARTICULARLY COMBATIVE.

JUMAANE, HE CALLS HIMSELF AN ACTIVIST POLITICIAN HE HAS BEEN KNOWN TO -- HE GETS ALONG WELL WITH OTHERS.

HE HAS BEEN PRODUCTIVE LEGISLATIVELY.

EVEN IF HE SPEAKS OUT AGAINST THE MAJORITY ON ISSUES HE'S MANAGED TO GET THINGS DONE.

WE CAN EXPECT SOME OF THAT I'M SURE HE'LL PARTNER WITH de BLASIO ON SOME ISSUES BUT HE HAS BEEN CRITICAL IN THE PAST OF THINGS LIKE TOO AGGRESSIVE POLICING BY THE NYPD.

I'M SURE WE'LL SEE HIM SPEAK MORE ABOUT THAT.

ABOUT TENANTS' RIGHTS.

THAT WILL BE ANOTHER PLATFORM OF HIS.

SO, YOU KNOW, WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS BUT WE SHOULD EXPECT THERE TO BE SOME BUTTING OF HEADS BETWEEN THE TWO.

AND OF COURSE WE WILL BE BACK AT THIS AGAIN, SO JUST A QUICK REMINDER WHY THERE WILL BE ANOTHER PUBLIC'S ADVOCATE RACE THIS SUMMER?

WELL, BECAUSE LETITIA JAMES GOT A NEW JOB, THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE POSITION HAS TO BE FILLED IN A SPECIAL ELECTION NOW AND IT WILL BE FILLED IN ANOTHER SPECIAL ELECTION LATER THIS YEAR.

JUMAANE WILLIAMS OF COURSE WILL BE THE PRESUMPTIVE WINNER ALREADY FOR THAT RACE.

ALL RIGHT.

SPEAKING OF THINGS THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WORK WITH THE MAYOR ON OR PERHAPS THE MAYOR WORKING WITH OTHER PEOPLE, WE HAVE SEEN MAYOR de BLASIO MOVE HIS THINKING ON THE PRICING CONGESTION AND WORKING ON THIS.

THAT'S RIGHT.

THE MAYOR AND GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCED THEIR PLAN TO FUND THE MTA.

THIS HAS BEEN SOMETHING THAT'S BEEN IN THE WORKS FOR YEARS AND de BLASIO HAS ALWAYS FAVORED IN THE PAST A MILLIONAIRE'S TAX RAISING THE TAX ON THE CITY'S WEALTHIEST IN ORDER TO PAY TO FIX THE SUBWAYS ESSENTIALLY.

NOW HE'S GOING ALONG WITH WHAT THE REST OF THE DEMOCRATS IN THE STATE HAVE SUPPORTED WHICH IS CONGESTION PRICING.

WHICH MEANS THAT IF ANYBODY DRIVES IN TO MANHATTAN BELOW 61st STREET, THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY A TOLL AND THAT MONEY IS GOING TO GO TOWARDS THE MTA.

WE DON'T HAVE A NUMBER ON THE TOLL YET.

THOSE DETAILS ARE STILL GOING TO BE WORKED OUT BY THE STATE LEGISLATIVE IN ALBANY, BUT THIS IS A BIG MOVE.

THE FACT THAT de BLASIO IS SUPPORTING THIS AND IT MEANS THAT THIS IS LIKELY TO HAPPEN SOME TIME IN THE COMING MONTHS.

NOW OF COURSE THE DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS WITH THE LEGISLATURE AND THERE'S SOME INDICATION THAT NOT EVERYBODY IS 100% ON BOARD WITH THIS, CONSIDERING SO MANY LEGISLATORS REPRESENT THE SUBURBS OR PEOPLE NOT IN NEW YORK CITY WHO WILL BE DRIVING IN.

THAT'S RIGHT.

WE HAVE SEEN THEM COMPLAIN ABOUT THE PLAN SAYING LOOK, WE LIKE THE DETAILS BUT YOU NEED TO GIVE SOME OF THE FUNDING ALSO TO THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD.

IF YOU'RE GOING TO DISCOURAGE THEM FROM DRIVING IN, MAKE IT EASY FOR US TO TAKE THE TRAIN IN.

OF COURSE WE'LL HEAR FROM THE NEW PUBLIC ADVOCATE.

WE HAVE HEARD SOME SHADE FROM SPEAKER COREY JOHNSON ON THE CONGESTION, BUT WE'LL HAVE YOU BACK TO TALK MORE ABOUT THAT.

THANK YOU FOR COMING IN.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

> WE HAVE PROBABLY ALL READ AN OBITUARY, BUT HAVE YOU LISTENED TO THE MOBITUARY?

IF NOT, THE TERM DIDN'T EXIST UNTIL JUST VERY RECENTLY.

THAT IS WHEN CBS SUNDAY MORNING CORRESPONDENT MO ROCCA PUT OUT THE FIRST PODCAST IN HIS MOBITUARY SERIES.

HIS GOAL -- AN IRREVERENT BUT DEEPLY RESEARCHED PAST OF EVERYONE WHO HAS INTRIGUED HIM.

HE WENT ON TO JENNINGS WHO FOUGHT IN THE 1800s TO HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY.

SOMEONE GOT A PROPER SENDOFF, A COMEDIAN AND JOHN F. KENNEDY IMPERSONATOR VAUGHN MEADER.

IN DECEMBER OF 1962, LATE NIGHT KING JACK PAAR GUSHED OVER AMERICA'S NUMBER ONE ALBUM.

IN FIVE WEEKS THIS ALBUM HAS BROKEN ALL RECORDS IN THE HISTORY OF THE RECORDING BUSINESS.

NO, IT DIDN'T BELONG TO HIM.

♪ ♪ RETURN TO SENDER

OR HIM.

♪ ♪ YOU DON'T KNOW ME

OR THEM.

♪ ♪ IF I HAD A HAMMER

IT WASN'T EVEN MUSIC.

YES?

WHEN WILL WE SEND THE MAN TO THE MOON?

WHENEVER GOLDWATER WANTS TO GO.

ALL OF THE EXCITEMENT WAS OVER THE COMEDY ALBUM, A PARODY OF JOHN F. KENNEDY AND HIS FAMILY CALLED 'THE FIRST FAMILY.'

YES, BOB, ARE YOU -- YOU ARE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

BUT WHEN YOU PLAY HERE YOU PLAY BY MY RULES OR YOU DON'T PLAY AT ALL.

AND I GUESS YOU KNOW WHY.

WHY?

BECAUSE IT'S MY BALL, THAT'S WHY.

AND ITS STAR WAS 26-YEAR-OLD COMEDIAN VAUGHN MEADER.

WHO HAD THE LOOK OF A DISTANT KENNEDY COUSIN BUT IT WAS HIS VOICE THAT MADE EVERYONE DO A DOUBLE TAKE.

HE'S DOING MY ACT?

HE'S DOING MY JUSTICE AND HE'S USING MY LINES.

DO NOT ASK WHAT THIS COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU.

THAT'S ONE OF MY ORIGINAL LINES.

AND WE'RE DELIGHTED TO BE JOINED NOW BY SERIES HOST MO ROCCA.

GREAT TO SEE YOU, JACK.

I WANT TO GET TO VAUGHN MEADER IN A SECOND.

I REMEMBER THOSE.

I'M OF AN AGE THAT I CAN REMEMBER COMEDY ALBUMS AND VAUGHN MEADER IN PARTICULAR.

I WANT TO ASK FIRST ABOUT YOUR OWN INTEREST IN OBITUARIES.

WHAT DRIVES THAT?

WELL, I GOT IT FROM MY FATHER.

I GOT A LOT FROM MY FATHER BUT HE LOVED READING OBITUARIES AND I STARTED LOVING THEM TOO.

I THINK IT'S -- I THINK THERE WAS -- THERE'S SOMETHING KIND OF GREAT, READING SOMEONE'S LIFE DISTILLED LIKE THAT.

AND I MEAN, IT'S FASCINATING OF COURSE TO LEARN ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE BUT THERE'S SOMETHING -- I DON'T KNOW, SOMETHING SELF-REFLECTIVE ABOUT IT.

YOU SORT -- IT'S KIND OF LIKE A DAILY OBSERVANCE IN A WAY.

YOU'RE READING ABOUT THIS PERSON'S LIFE AND THEN YOU START THINKING ABOUT WHAT I -- WOULD I HAVE MADE THAT CHOICE?

IF YOU'RE PETTY, YOU'RE THINKING OH, MY, THIS GUY DID ALL OF THIS BY THE TIME --

EXACTLY.

YOU KNOW WHAT'S FUNNY YOU SAY THAT.

I READ THEM ALL THE TIME.

MY FATHER-IN-LAW, MY LATE FATHER-IN-LAW CORNELIUS D. KELLY USED TO REFER TO THEM AS THE IRISH FUNNY PAGES.

THAT'S GREAT.

HE DIDN'T MEAN TO BE IRREVERENT, BUT THAT'S WHERE THE IRISH WENT TO FIRST, TO FIND OUT WHO THEY HAD LOST IN THEIR GROUP.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA I'M GOING TO TAKE MY INTEREST IN THIS AND LET'S MAKE IT SOMETHING DIFFERENT, A MOBITUARY?

YOU KNOW, WEIRD THINGS LIKE FAMOUS PEOPLE DYING ON THE SAME DAY.

THAT KIND OF KEEPS ME AWAKE AT NIGHT.

I KIND OF THINK ABOUT THAT SORT OF STUFF.

AND I HAVE LOVED DOING PROFILES ON CBS SUNDAY MORNING AND I HEARD OBITUARY READERS SAY A GOOD OBITUARY IS ABOUT THE LIFE OF SOMEBODY, NOT THE DEATH OF SOMEBODY.

IT SEEMS LIKE A GOOD WAY TO PROFILE SOMEBODY WHO HAD AN OBITUARY THAT WASN'T QUITE YOU KNOW WHAT HE OR SHE DESERVED AND PEOPLE AND THINGS THAT NEVER GOT OBITUARIES.

WE SAW VAUGHN MEADER AND I'M 12 OR 13 YEARS OLD WHEN THAT COMES OUT AND IN THE ERA THAT PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED BY THIS, WHERE COMEDY ALBUMS WERE BEST SELLERS.

AND VAUGHN MEADER HAS -- AND JOHN F. KENNEDY HAS THE METEORIC RISE AND VAUGHN MEADER HAS THE METEORIC RISE.

TALK ABOUT HIM AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS TO HIM AFTER THAT TRAGIC DEATH OF --

WELL, HE -- I MEAN, IT'S ALMOST GREEK PROPORTIONS.

YOU HAVE THIS MAN WHO IS AN OKAY COMIC.

NOT A GREAT COMIC.

HE OTHERWISE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN REMEMBERED AT ALL, FRANKLY.

HE JUST HAPPENS TO DO A REALLY GREAT IMITATION OF JOHN F.

KENNEDY.

SO THE STARS LINE UP AND THIS GUY BECOMES WILDLY FAMOUS.

HEADLINING AN ALBUM THAT AS YOU SAID YOU GREW UP WITH.

THE FIRST FAMILY ALBUM.

IT'S AN AFFECTIONATE SPOOF.

THE KIND OF THING I LIKE.

I LIKE THINGS LIKE THAT.

WE THINK NOW, WE THINK POLITICAL SATIRE IS IN SOME WAYS IT'S VICIOUS.

NOT ALWAYS.

BUT CAN BE.

SURE.

BUT THIS WASN'T.

IT WASN'T.

I HADN'T LISTENED TO IT AND YOU CAN HEAR IT ON YOUTUBE.

IT'S FUN.

I SAY IN THE PODCAST IT'S KIND OF LIKE A MAD MAGAZINE SPOOF.

WHAT'S INTERESTING, JACK PAAR WE SAW HIM IN THE CLIP WHEN HE WAS HOSTING 'THE TONIGHT SHOW' AND HE SAID I KNOW THIS IS FUNNY, AND THE BRING SIP US TO FALL.

HE LIVED FOR ANOTHER 40 YEARS WHICH SEEMS SYMBOLIC TO ME.

WE WENT TO THE ARCHIVES, ONE OF THE PRODUCERS FOUND IN THE ARCHIVES A 90 MINUTE INTERVIEW HE HAD GIVEN ONLY SECONDS OF WHICH AIRED ON CBS.

IT WAS SHORTLY BEFORE HE DIED REFLECTING ON WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE VAUGHN MEADER IN THOSE DAYS AND AFTERWARDS.

AND IT'S LIKE LISTENING TO SOMEONE TALK ABOUT WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE DEAD WHEN YOU'RE STILL ALIVE.

I MEAN, IT'S REALLY HARROWING.

IT IS.

SO LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT SAMMY DAVIS JR. AND THE LOOK YOU TAKE AT HIM.

IT'S A HUGE LIFE.

OKAY, IT'S HARD TO WRESTLE INTO ANY -- INTO AN EPISODE OF ANY LENGTH BUT HE IS -- HE HAS BEEN CALLED THE GREATEST ENTERTAINER OF THE 20th CENTURY.

IF YOU GO DOWN THE YOUTUBE HOLE -- YOU REMEMBER HIM.

I WOULD AGREE WITH THAT CHARACTERIZATION.

I THINK IT'S HIM AND I THINK IT'S JUDY GARLAND TOO.

WHAT'S INTERESTING IN BOTH CASES IS THEY CAN DO IT ALL BUT THEY'RE MORE THAN THE SUM OF THEIR INDIVIDUAL TALENTS.

THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON.

THERE'S A LIGHT AND IT MAKES WHAT SAMMY DAVIS JR. DOES.

WHEN YOU PUT HIM UP AGAINST SOMEBODY ELSE LIKE A DANCER, SOMEBODY ELSE WHO'S A DANCER, THAT'S ALL THEY ARE, AND A GREAT DANCER, YOU CAN'T NOT LOOK AT SAMMY DAVIS JR.

THERE'S A LIGHT INSIDE OF THERE AND ALL THE PEOPLE I TALKED TO, CHITA RIVERA, CAROL BURNET, DIONNE WARWICK TALKED ABOUT HIS JOY IN PERFORMING AND A KIND OF INNOCENCE.

NOT CHILDISHNESS, BUT CHILD LIKE.

THERE'S A DIFFERENCE.

AND WHAT I WAS KIND OF INTERESTED IN IS THERE'S A KIND OF A MAWKISH CLICHE OF THE ENTERTAINER WHO GIVES EVERYTHING TO THE AUDIENCE AND HAS NOTHING LEFT FOR HIM AND SAN FRANCISCO WILLIE BROWN, A GREAT INTERVIEW, HE SAID NO NO NO NO.

SAMMY KEPT A LOT FOR HIMSELF.

HE ENJOYED LIFE AND OTHER PEOPLE SAID THAT.

SO THERE'S JUST THIS -- HE WAS LIKE THIS COMIC THAT CAME ACROSS, JUST A COMET OF JOY AND TALENT.

YOU COULD TELL THAT IT WASN'T HIS JOB.

IT'S WHO HE WAS.

IT'S WHO HE WAS.

LIKE A VOCATION.

LIKE, RIGHT?

LIKE A RELIGIOUS VOW TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY FROM THE STAGE.

I THINK IN A WAY IT WAS A PREDICAMENT FOR HIM BECAUSE HERE HE IS AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN MAN LIVING OVER THE MAJORITY OF THE 20th CENTURY WITH ALL OF THIS CHANGE.

AND HE'S -- HE DOES MORE FOR THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT THAN HE'S GIVEN CREDIT FOR, BUT MOST OF ALL, HE'S A PERFORMER.

HE WANTS TO PERFORM.

AND THAT'S THE MAIN THING IN LIFE.

I THINK -- IT'S HARD -- YOU KNOW, TODAY YOU DON'T HEAR A LOT OF PEOPLE PROUDLY CALL THEMSELVES ENTERTAINERS.

IT'S A BIT OF CHEESINESS.

I THINK THEY FEAR IT SEEMS CHEESY.

HE WAS A PROUD ENTERTAINER AND NEVER MAKES FUN OF THE MATERIAL.

NEVER SNEERS AT IT.

BECAUSE HE'S TOO TALENTED.

HE DOESN'T HAVE TO.

HE DOES HAVEN'T TO BE DEFENSIVE AND DISTANT.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT AUDREY HEPBURN.

YOU TALKED ABOUT WORKING AT MACY'S IN HER OLD SQUARE AND THERE WAS A MOMENT OF HEPBURN SHE COMES FLOATING BY YOU.

RIGHT.

NO CERVICAL CURVE LIKE SHE HAD BEEN A DANCER.

YES, I WAS 23 YEARS OLD I GUESS WHEN SHE WALKED BY.

I JUST TURNED 23.

SHE WALKED BY MY COUNTER.

THIS IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST DEPARTMENT STORE UNLESS YOU COUNT GUM'S, AND THAT'S NOTHING ON THE SHELVES.

I'M THINKING THAT AUDREY HEPBURN WON'T SHOW UP AT GUM'S.

ANYWAY, SHE WALKED THROUGH THE FLOOR BY MY COUNTER.

I WAS BEHIND THE CHANEL COUNTER AND LADIES FRAGRANCES.

AND I'M TELLING YOU, IT'S LIKE EVERYTHING STOPS.

AND PEOPLE JUST KIND OF LOOKED AND REALLY IF PEOPLE HAD HAD CELL PHONES BACK THEN YOU WOULDN'T HAVE SHOVED IT IN HER FACE FOR A SELFIE.

AND WHAT I WANTED TO DO IN THAT EPISODE IS SAY WHAT'S GOING ON THERE?

WHY IS SHE STILL TRENDING ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM 25 YEARS LATER AFTER HER DEATH.

NOT JUST BECAUSE SHE'S A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, NOT JUST THAT.

NOT BECAUSE SHE'S A PRETTY WOMAN.

SOMETHING COMING FROM THE INSIDE AND SO WE WENT BACK AND LOOKED AT HER HISTORY AND THE WAR AND WE HYPOTHESIZED THERE WAS A CONNECTION BETWEEN WHAT SHE WENT THROUGH AND THE KIND OF EMPATHY AND WARMTH, LUMINOSITY, YOU KNOW, THAT'S NOT OVERDOING IT THAT COMES THROUGH ON SCREEN.

IT'S NOT -- IT'S NOT AN ACCIDENT THAT WE REMEMBER AND WE LOVE HER.

WHAT'S INTERETING TO ME IS THAT SHE WAS MAGICAL THEN AND SHE'S REMAINED MAGICAL.

RIGHT.

THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE.

RIGHT.

THIS IS -- THE SECOND SERIES IS COMING UP.

IT WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY A BOOK.

TELL ME ABOUT THE BOOK.

WELL, THE BOOK WILL COVER SOME OF THE SAME TOPICS.

AND THERE ARE A WHOLE BUNCH OF TOPICS THAT ARE LESS SORT OF AUDIO FRIENDLY BUT, YOU KNOW, I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THE STATION WAGON.

GIVE THE STATION WAGON A PROPER SENDOFF.

WE ALL HAD ONE.

MOTHER DRIVING A STATION WAGON.

I REMEMBER MY WIFE DRIVING A STATION WAGON WHEN MY KIDS WERE LITTLE.

DIDN'T YOU LOVE THE WAY, WAY BACK.

THAT'S WHERE YOU WANTED TO BE.

ABSOLUTELY.

BUT WE REALIZE THERE WERE NO SEAT BELTS, NO NOTHING.

BUT YOU WANTED TO BE IN THE WAY, WAY BACK.

YOU WANTED TO BE IN THE WAY, WAY BACK.

I WANTED TO GET INSIDE THE DRYER AND DO A SPIN CYCLE.

THAT'S A SCARY NOTION THOUGH.

BUT I LIKE THE IDEA OF BEING THROWN AROUND WHEN I WAS LITTLE.

THAT'S WHY I WANTED TO BE IN THE WAY, WAY BACK.

THEY'RE FABULOUS.

WE EXPECT NOTHING LESS FROM YOU.

IF YOU HAVE ANY PICTURES, GOOD DEAD PEOPLE IN THE CONTEST THROW THEM MY WAY.

WE KNOW WHERE THEY GO.

GOOD TO SEE YOU.

FOR MORE ON THE MOBITUARY PODCAST, FOR MORE HOW TO SUBSCRIBE AND LISTEN HEAD OVER TO OUR WEBSITE.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ ROSALIND P. WALTER BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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