METROFOCUS: APRIL 17, 2019

Is eliminating “cash bail” a step toward judicial equality, or will it ultimately be a danger to the community? We have the details. Plus, after years of unparalleled violence in Baltimore, a diverse group of people are working together to reverse the deadly trend. And, if you’re looking for something fun to do, we’ve got your ticket and are taking you behind the scenes of one of the hottest shows in New York.

Aired on April 17, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

NEW YORK'S NEW CASH BAIL REFORM.

FAIR OR DANGEROUS?

EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE STATE LEGISLATURE ELIMINATED CASH BAIL FOR MOST MISDEMEANOR AND NONVIOLENT FELONY OFFENSES.

ITS PROPONENTS SAY THE REFORM HAS JUDICIAL EQUITY FOR DEFENDANTS UNFAIRLY PENALIZED FOR BEING POOR OR PEOPLE OF COLOR.

OTHERS BELIEVE THE MOVE IS, QUOTE, SOFT ON CRIME AND WILL LET DANGEROUS CRIMINALS RUN FREE.

A CLOSER LOOK JUST AHEAD.

> A COMMUNITY FIGHTS BACK.

AFTER THREE YEARS OF UNPARALLELED VIOLENCE ON THE STREETS OF BALTIMORE, MEET A DIVERSE GROUP OF PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER TO REVERSE THIS DEADLY TREND.

> AND IT'S ONE OF THE HOTTEST TICKETS IN TOWN.

A LESBIAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IN A CONSERVATIVE MIDWEST GETS HER HIGH SCHOOL PROM CANCELED AFTER IT BECOMES PUBLIC THAT SHE'S BRINGING HER GIRLFRIEND AS HER DATE.

TO COMPLICATE AN ALREADY STRESSFUL SITUATION, FOUR OVER THE HI ACTORS GET INVOLVED IN AN EFFORT TO HELP HER AND TO GENERATE SOME GREAT PRESS FOR THEMSELVES.

SOME HOT MUSIC, UPROAR JUST LAUGHTER AND MIX THEM ALL TOGETHER AND YOU'RE AT THE PROM ON BROADWAY.

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, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING 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.

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

NEW YORK'S BAIL REFORM.

FAIR OR DANGEROUS?

STARTING NEXT YEAR PEOPLE ACCUSED OF THE VAST IN A JORT OF CRIMES WON'T BE SEEING THE INSIDE OF A JAIL CELL.

THAT'S BECAUSE THE STATE'S NEW BUDGET WILL HAVE VIRTUALLY ELIMINATED THE CASH BAIL SYSTEM WHICH OPPONENTS SAY UNFAIRLY PENALIZES THE POOR AND PEOPLE OF COLOR.

BUT AS BAIL REFORM CREATES JUDICIAL EQUITY, WHY HAVE THE DISTRICTS FROM ACROSS THE STREET INCLUDING HERE IN BROOKLYN AND SUFFOLK COUNTY, SUMMONED THE ALARM AGAINST THEM CALLING IT A I , QUOTE, DANGEROUS MISTAKE.

MAX, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

SO FIRST BEFORE WE EVEN GET INTO THE BAIL REFORM IN THOSE STATE BUDGETS, I WANT TO GO BACK AND TALK ABOUT A MASS BAILOUT PROJECT THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION UNDERTOOK.

WHAT WAS IT AND WHAT WAS IT SUPPOSED TO ILLUSTRATE?

SO THE MASS BAILOUT WE UNDERTOOK WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS IS THE LARGEST SINGLE MASS BAILOUT OF PRETRIAL DETAINEES ANYWHERE IN AMERICA, ANYWHERE IN HISTORY.

WE DID 102 DETAINEES.

IT TOOK ABOUT $102 MILLION.

A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE WERE IN JAIL ON $100, $10, A FEW ON $1 BAIL.

AND WE'RE PROUD TO REPORT THAT 95% OF THOSE SHOWED UP TO COURT, WENT TO THEIR HEARINGS.

THE SKY DIDN'T FALL.

THE STREETS DIDN'T RUN RED WITH VIOLENCE.

EVERYTHING CONTINUED JUST AS IT IS WHICH SHOWS YOU HOW GROWN BAIL PROCESS IS.

SO YOU'RE SAYING 95% OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BAILED OUT DID ATTEND AND GO TO COURT FOR THEIR CASES.

HOWEVER IT SEEMS TO ME THE PROBLEM THE DISTRICT ATTORNEYS WERE RAISING THE FLAG FOR DIDN'T.

THAT SOME OF THEM MIGHT BE INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS.

THEY MIGHT BE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE BEING HELD BEHIND BARS UNTIL THEIR CASE IS BROUGHT TO TRIAL.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

WELL, THAT IS ON A JUDGE THE DECIDE.

THAT JUST CAME OUT OF ALBANY AS WELL.

THEY HAVE TO SHOW IN THE RECORD EVIDENTIARY REASONS TO KEEP SOMEONE IN JAIL.

THE PROBLEM WITH THIS IS, THE PEOPLE THAT WERE HELD ON BAIL HAVE NOT BEEN CONVICTED OF ANY CRIME.

THEY'RE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

SO WHAT WE'RE SAYING IS, WE'RE FINE WITH PEOPLE GETTING OUT IF THEY CAN PAY THEIR OWN WAY.

PEOPLE ARE BAILED OUT EVERY DAY.

THEY'RE JUST WEALTHY PEOPLE.

WHEN SOMEONE ELSE BAILS OUT LOWER INCOME PEOPLE, WHO ARE MORE DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY BEING IN JAIL, THAT IS A PROBLEM.

SUDDENLY THAT'S A RISK.

AND IT SHOWS YOU A LOT OF THE RACE BASED FEAR AND A LOT OF THE CLASS BASED FEAR GOES INTO BAIL.

WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO NEVER HAVE GOTTEN ENTWINED IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM THIS WAY, WOULD NOT QUITE UNDERSTAND IT.

FOR A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO BAILED OUT, WHAT WERE THEY IN JAIL FOR?

70% OF PEOPLE WAITING IN JAIL ON BAIL IN NEW YORK ARE THERE FOR MISDEMEANOR CRIMES.

AND THESE ARE THINGS THAT ARE NO LONGER GOING TO WIND YOU UP IN JAIL, WAITING TO PAY BAIL UNDER THIS NEW LAW OUT OF ALBANY.

THAT'S HUGE.

THIS SORT OF CREATES AND THROWS A PROBLEM INTO SHARPER CONTRAST.

BECAUSE YOU CANNOT HAVE A SYSTEM WHERE WE SAY, THERE IS EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.

BUT ALSO, IF YOU PAY, YOU CAN HAVE BETTER OUTCOME.

THOSE ARE FUNDAMENTALLY INCOMPATIBLE IDEAS.

SO IF WE'RE GOING TO SAY, BAIL IS UNJUST AND UNFAIR AND DOES NOT HELP JUSTICE IN 90% OF CASES, WE SHOULD HAVE THE POLITICAL COURAGE TO SAY IT WON'T HELP IN THE OTHER TEN EITHER.

AND JUST GET RID OF CASH BAIL AS GOVERNOR CUOMO PROMISED, AS AMERICANS DESERVE.

WELL, IF THE CASH BAIL SYSTEM IS TO COMPLETELY GO AWAY, LIKE IF THEORY IT WILL BE, AT LEAST IN 2020, WHAT THEN BECOMES OF, WHAT IS THE INCENTIVE TO FORCE PEOPLE TO MAKE SURE THEY GO THROUGH WITH THEIR OBLIGATION TO GO TO COURT?

WE FIND SURPRISINGLY, IT DOESN'T TAKE A LOT OF COURSE.

WHEN PEOPLE'S LIVES ARE ON THE LINE, IT IS NOT LIKE MISSING A CYCLE WHICH IS A OR YOU HAVE TO PAY $20.

THEY'RE LOSING THEIR FREEDOM.

WE FOUND WITH NEW JERSEY, WHICH REMOVED CASH BAIL, MARYLAND, D.C., THEY PROVIDED THINGS LIKE ELECTRONIC MONITORING, HOME ARREST, PRETRIAL SERVICES, FOR DRUG ADDICTION, ALCOHOLISM, TO KEEP PEOPLE IN THEIR HOMES WITH THEIR FAMILIES SO THEY CAN GO TO WORK.

THEY WON'T LOSE THEIR JOB.

THEIR FAMILY WON'T LOSE THEIR HOME.

AND WE CAN STOP COMPOUNDING THESE PROBLEMS THAT CREATE MORE CRIME.

AND IS THERE ANY INDICATION OF WHETHER THIS WILL ALSO HELP TO LOWER THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE IN JAIL?

BECAUSE AS WE'VE HEARD, A LOT OF PEOPLE SIT IN JAIL FOR A VERY LONG TIME WAITING FOR THE COURT SYSTEM ON BRING THEM UP TO TRIAL.

YES.

ROB F. KENNEDY REPRESENTED PEDRO HERNANDEZ, A TEAM FOR THE BRONX.

AN HONOR STUDENT FALSELY ACCUSED OF SHOOTING SOMEONE, WAS HELD IN REICHERS FOR 11 MONTHS WITHOUT TRIAL.

BECAUSE HE WOULD NOT PLEAD GUILTY IN A PLEA DEAL.

AND HE MAINTAINED HIS INNOCENCE THE ENTIRE TIME.

AS SOON AS HE WAS LET OUT.

AS SOON AS WE SECURED HIS RELEASE.

THE CHARGES WERE DROPPED.

BECAUSE PROSECUTORS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE ONLY CASE THEY HAD AGAINST HIM WAS TO KEEP HIM IN A VIOLENT PRISON, TO THREATEN HIM EVERY DAY WITH LARGER SENTENCES, WITH LONGER TIME, AND AS SOON AS THEY COULDN'T MANIPULATE PEDRO, LIKE SO MANY OTHERS INTO PLEA AGREEMENTS, THE CASE VANISHED.

WHAT ABOUT THE IDEA OF ALL OF THIS CASH THAT'S RAISED FROM THE BAIL SYSTEM?

FIRST OF ALL, DO WE KNOW WHERE IT IS GOING?

WHERE IT WAS BEING COLLECTED?

AND WITH THIS THEORY BUDGET HOLE, SOMETHING WILL HAVE TO FILL IT.

YEAH.

ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS IS TO FOLLOW THE MONEY HERE AND SEE THAT THIS IS SUCH A HOT TOPIC.

A LOT OF PEOPLE MAKE A LOT OF MONEY.

BAIL BONDS, FEES FOR THE CITY.

THESE ARE DECEPTIVE.

BECAUSE NEW YORK CITY MADE ABOUT $2.5 MILLION ON BAIL FEES LAST YEAR.

WE SPENT $100 MILLION KEEPING THOSE PEOPLE IN JAIL PRETRIAL.

ABOUT $200,000 PER DETAINEE.

AND NOBODY, DEMOCRAT, REPUBLICAN, POLICE OFFICERS, EDUCATORS, LIBERAL CONSERVATIVES, WOULD ARGUE THAT WE'RE BETTER OFF SPENDING $200,000 JAILING A TEENAGER, RATHER THAN GETTING THEM SOME HELP AND GETTING THEM IN SCHOOL.

THE COST SAVINGS FROM JUST NOT INCARCERATING SO MANY PEOPLE WILL MORE THAN MAKE UP FOR THE MONEY THAT'S QUITE FRANKLY GOING INTO PRIVATE HANDS ANYWAY.

IT IS NOT MONEY MAKING IT BACK TO THE STATES.

IT IS ENRICHING BAIL BONDSMEN, MIDDLE MEN, AND PEOPLE THAT KEEP THIS SYSTEM GOING.

WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS I WANT TO CIRCLE BACK TO IS THE REBUTTAL THAT THE D.A. PUBLISHED IN THE DAILY NEWS.

IN CASES THAT HAVE BEEN OUTLINED IN THE LAW AND EXISTS ALREADY, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEX OFFENSES, THEY ARE REIMAGINEDED INTO CUSTODY.

IT IS NOT LIKE WE'RE CATCHING AND RELEASING PEOPLE THAT HAVE MURDERED PEOPLE, OR THAT BAIL CAN BE EASILY ARGUED.

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE HERE IS NOW THE JUDGES HAVE TO ACTUALLY SHOW A LEGAL REASON.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, LISTEN, THANK YOU DEFINITELY FOR YOUR WORK FOR THE MASSIVE BAILOUT.

THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT AND ILLUSTRATED A HUGE PROBLEM WITH OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM.

BUT ALSO, WE'LL BE FOLLOWING THE STORY TO SEE HOW IT DEVELOPS.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

> A NEW INDEPENDENT LENS DOCUMENTARY TITLED CHARM CITY IS TAKING VIEWERS BEYOND TELEVISION HEADLINES INTO THE FRONT LINES OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND.

ONE OF AMERICA'S MOST DANGEROUS CITIES.

SHARING THE STORIES OF CITIZENS, COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS DURING A SOMEWHAT VIOLENT THREE-YEAR PERIOD.

THE DOCUMENTARY GIVES AS YOU POWERFUL PORTRAIT OF THOSE SURVIVING AND FIGHTING FOR THE VIBRANT CITY THEY CALL HOME.

TAKE A LOOK.

WE'VE GOT 171 DAYS LEFT.

THAT'S A STATE OF EMERGENCY.

WHEN I FIRST DECIDED -- HOW COULD YOU, THE WAY THEY TREAT US.

THEY ONLY WANT TO LOCK US UP.

I'M GOING TO HELP THESE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN.

CHARM CITY.

PREMIERS MONDAY.

ONLY ON PBS.

AND JOINING ME NOW IS THE DIRECTOR OF CHARM CITY, MARILYN, WELCOME TO YOU.

I WILL TELL YOU THIS.

THAT THE DOCUMENTARY IS ALL THOSE THINGS THAT WE JUST SAW IN TERMS OF GRIPPING AND SO COMPELLING, A LOOK INSIDE OF THE LIFE ON THE STREETS.

SO, THAT BEING.

LET ME ASK YOU.

WHAT IS IT THAT DREW YOU TO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

IT WAS LATE 2014.

WE WERE SEEING MANY HIGH PROFILE DEATHS IN YOUNG AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN AND WOMEN.

WE WOULD SEE IT ON NIGHTLY NEWS OR SOCIAL MEDIA.

THE DAY IN, DAY OUT FELT LIKE WHAT WAS ELUDING US IN THESE SNIPPETS.

WHAT IT DOES IS IT WE CAN BE PATIENT AND STAND IN ONE PLACE FOR A LONG TIME UNTIL WE CAN BRING OUR CAMERAS INTO THESE PLACES TO FIND OUT WHAT'S NOT WORKING.

IT WAS A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.

THREE YEARS.

I WANT TO ASK YOU.

I SUSPECT PEOPLE WATCHING THIS, WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH BALTIMORE MIGHT BE SAYING, THIS IS A LOOK INSIDE WITH VERY DIFFICULT TIMES.

WHY WOULD IT THEN BE CALLED CHARM CITY?

WELL, CHARM CITY IS THE NICK NAME BALTIMORE.

IT WAS A 1970s CAMPAIGN TO TRY TO BRING FOLKS BACK TO BALTIMORE AFTER WHITE FLIGHT.

AFTER INDUSTRY LEFT.

WE WANTED TO NOD TO THE LOCAL FOLKS, WE MADE THIS FILM FOR THEM IN MANY WAYS.

THERE IS A NICKNAME, CHARLIE CITY IF YOU'RE IN THE WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS, AND HARM CITY IF YOU'RE IN UNDERRESOURCED BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS.

WHEN YOU SEE THE FILM, YOU WILL SEE, IT WAS OUR WAY OF SAYING WE UNDERSTAND THE IRONY HERE AND WE'RE TRYING TO PAINT TWO PORTRAITS FOR YOU.

TALKING ABOUT THREE YEARS FOR ALL THIS.

YOU SPENT A GOOD DEAL OF TIME WITHOUT CAMERAS ROWING.

WHY DID YOU TAKE THAT APPROACH?

WHAT WERE YOU HOPING TO LEARN BEFORE YOU STARTED?

I THINK FIGURING OUT WHICH WAY TO POINT A CAMERA IS THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK WE DO WHEN MAKING A FILM.

AND ONCE YOU BRING THE CAMERA, IT DOES CHANGE EVERYTHING.

PEOPLE BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY BUT THERE IS AN INTERMEDIARY BETWEEN ME AND THE PEOPLE I WANT TO LOOK IN THE EYE, WHO NEED TO LOOK ME IN THE EYE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS IT WE'RE TRYING TO DO?

WHAT ARE WE ASKING OF THEM, THEIR LIVES.

SO SPENDING A LONG PERIOD OF TIME, ANSWERING THOSE QUESTIONS, ASKING THOSE QUESTIONS IS PREFERABLE TO ME AS A DIRECTOR.

AND I THINK IT PUT US IN GOOD STEAD.

WE DID NOT REALIZE WHAT HAPPENED.

WE WERE ON THE GROUND FOUR MONTHS BEFORE FREDDY GRAY'S DEATH IN POLICE CUSTODY.

WHEN THE MEDIA DEFENDED, POINTED AT THE CAMERAS, EVERYTHING IS PLAYING.

WE HAVE BEEN HAVING CONVERSATIONS.

THEN THE MEDIA LEFT AND WE STAYED, MUCH TO THEIR SURPRISE.

THEY WERE SURPRISED WE WERE INTERESTED.

AND I THINK THAT TRUST IS WHAT YOU'RE SEEING COME THROUGH IN THE FOOTAGE.

THAT THEY KNEW WHY WE WERE THERE AND THEY KNEW WHY WE STAYED.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THEY, OBVIOUSLY DECIDING WHO WILL BE YOUR FOCUS FIGURES, IF YOU WILL, IN THE DOCUMENTARY SUCH AS THIS, IS EXTRAORDINARILY IMPORTANT.

SO HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT THAT SELECTION PROCESS?

SO WE DECIDED TO FOLLOW WHAT WE CALLED FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD, THE POLICED.

PEOPLE WHO FEEL EXCESSIVELY POLICED IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITY, AND THE POLICE.

AND WE STARTED WITH A WIDE NET.

WE FILMED WITH A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT FOLKS.

HOW DO YOU ACCESS THOSE STORIES IS ALWAYS THE QUESTION.

AS YOU KNOW, SHOWING ONE CAMERA CREW AND COVERING AN UNFOLDING STORY, A CONFLICT OR A TRAGEDY, PEOPLE DON'T ALWAYS TRUST YOU.

YOU'RE AN OUTSIDER.

NOT ONLY AN OUTSIDER BUT ONE WITH A CAMERA.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOU WERE ABLE TO CREATE THE LEVEL OF TRUST THAT IS APPARENT?

PEOPLE ARE SAYING THINGS TO YOU IN YOUR CAMERA THAT THE VIEWERS MIGHT FIND VERY SURPRISING.

YEAH.

THERE WERE MANY LAYERS WE HAD TO DEAL WITH.

FIRST, SPENDING THE TIME.

LOOKING PEOPLE IN THE EYE.

ALLOWING THEM TO ASK QUESTIONS WHEN YOU'RE THERE FOR THREE YEARS, THAT'S A LOT OF TIME OFF CAMERA AS IT IS ON.

MY TEAM, ME AND MY PRODUCER ARE NOT FROM BALTIMORE OF WE'RE ACTUALLY FROM NEW YORK.

WE BUILT AN ENTIRELY LOCAL TEAM ON THE GROUND IN BALL.

WE REALLY HAD TO ANSWER TO THEM AS OFTEN AS WE DID TO OUR SUBJECTS ABOUT WHAT IT IS WE WERE TRYING TO DO AND SAY IN THEIR CITY.

AND THEY INFORMED OUR PROCESS THROUGHOUT.

EVERYTHING WAS REALLY FLUID.

IT IS A SMALL TEAM.

WE COMMUNICATED ALL THE TIME.

AND OF COURSE, I'M A WHITE WOMAN WORKING IN A TOWN, THE MAJORITY OF THE FOLKS ARE AFRICAN-AMERICAN.

SO WE WORKED CAREFULLY TO HAVE A DIVERSE TEAM OF FOLKS, OUR CO-PRODUCER, A CINEMATOGRAPHER, AND OUR DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY.

IN FACT, HE SOLELY DECIDED WHEN TO TURN THE CAMERA ON AND OFF.

SOMETIMES I'M LIKE, DID YOU FILM IT?

HE DIDN'T.

BECAUSE HE DIDN'T LIKE THE REPRESENTATION.

AND WE ACCEPTED THAT.

THIS WAS MANY PEOPLE'S STORY TO TELL.

SO HOW DO YOU INVITE A COMMUNITY AND TELL A STORY?

THAT WAS WHAT WE FOLLOWED.

WE WERE TALKING ABOUT IT A FEW MINUTES AGO WHEN WE STARTED ROLLING IN THIS CONVERSATION.

YOU SAW THE NOTION OF INVOKING THE WIRE.

AND I TOLD YOU, ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE SERIES, IT SHOWS UP ON MOST LISTS AS THE TOP FIVE DRAMAS EVER ON TELEVISION.

SET IN BALTIMORE.

HOW DID YOU FIND THE FOLKS THAT YOU TALKED TO?

HOW DID YOU FIND THEM REACTING TO THE NOTION OF THE WIRE AND ITS DEPICTION OF BALTIMORE?

YEAH.

I AGREE.

IT IS ONE OF THE BEST SHOWS ON TELEVISION AND IT ABSOLUTELY CAPTURED THE ERA.

IT DID IT DRAMATICALLY.

IT WAS A NARRATIVE.

SO I THINK THE FOLKS FEEL LIKE THEY'RE OFTEN LIVING THAT STIGMA DOWN.

AND IT IS TRUE, WE WERE THERE IN THE THREE MOST VIOLENT YEARS IN HISTORY.

THERE ARE PARTS OF BALTIMORE COMPLETELY UNIMPACTED BY THOSE THINGS, WHICH IS TROUBLING IN THESE CITIES WHERE THE HAVEs AND THE HAVE NOTs IS REALLY ON DISPLAY.

I THINK A LOT OF THE REASONS FOLKS WANTED TO BE IN THE FILM, TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.

SO ALEX LONG SAYS HE'S THE YOUNG MAN TRYING TO PREVENT VIOLENCE.

HE SAID HE LEAVES BALTIMORE.

PEOPLE SAY DO YOU REALLY PUT DEAD BODIES THERE?

THERE'S A WHOLE SIDE OF THE CITY OF PEOPLE WHO WAKE UP IN THE MORNING TRYING TO DO BETTER THAN THE DAY BEFORE AND THAT'S WHAT HE WANTED TO PUT ONSCREEN.

I THINK THAT WAS HIS REASON FOR CONTINUING ON WITH US.

I CAN TELL YOU IT CAPTURED THE DRAMATIC NARRATIVE OF BALTIMORE.

THIS TERM CHARM CITY DEFINITELY CAPTURES IT NOW.

GREAT WORK.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING THIS OUT THERE.

THE REACTION PEOPLE HAVE TO IT.

ME, TOO.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

NOR FOR YOU OUT THERE, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK YOUR LISTINGS FOR AIR TIMES.

> SO HERE'S THE STORY.

GIRL MEETS GIRL.

GIRLS FALL IN LOVE.

GIRLS GET BANNED.

WELCOME TO THE NEW BROADWAY MUSICAL, 'THE PROM.'

THE STORY OF A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT WHO WANTS TO TAKE HER GIRLFRIEND TO THE RITE OF PASSAGE.

BUT THE SCHOOL BOARD WON'T ALLOW IT.

SO FOUR SEASONED BROADWAY VETERANS LOOKING FOR SOME POSITIVE PRESS GO THERE.

I KNOW WHAT THEIR INFLATED EGOS TO TRY TO SAVE THE DAY.

RESULTING IN ONE OF THE FUNNIEST, MOST SPEAKER TEENAGE AND AT THE SAME TIME, MOST P POINTANT SHOWS.

> JOINING ME NOW, TWO OF THE ACTORS WHO PLAYS EMA, AND PORTRAYING ONE OF THE VAIN ACTORS.

YOU'RE EXPECTING THE AUDIENCE TO ENVISION THE NOTION OF CAN THIS BE VAIN AND EGOTISTICAL AND SELF-CENTERED ACTORS?

INSANE.

BUT DO YOU WELL.

I GAVE THE SCENARIO HERE.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A SITUATION WHERE YOU'RE STRUGGLING WITH GAY RIGHTS.

I HEARD YOU SAY, CAITLYN, IT IS SO MUCH MORE.

IT REALLY IS.

I THINK THE SHOW DOES SUCH A WONDERFUL JOB OF COMBINING THESE TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS AND BRINGING THEM TOGETHER AND OPENING CONVERSATIONS.

AND THEY CAN'T BE MORE DIFFERENT WORLDS.

POLAR OPPOSITE.

BUT IT BRINGS UP SO MANY TOPICS.

WE APPROACH IT WITH HUMOR AND LIGHT INSTEAD OF REALLY GETTING TO IT.

AND THEREFORE, PEOPLE COME AND SEE IT.

OH, WE CAN HAVE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THIS.

THIS IS FINE.

I KNOW THIS WILL BE FUNNY.

BUT BOTH MY WIFE AND I SAID THE SAME THING.

IT WAS ONE OF THOSE LAUGH OUT LOUDS UNTIL YOUR STOMACH HURTS FUNNY.

DID NOT EXPECT THAT MUCH HUMOR.

IT IS A GREAT GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING WHEN IT COMES TO MUSICAL COMEDY.

THAT'S SAYING SOMETHING.

BECAUSE IT'S HARD.

WHAT IS THE LINE ABOUT -- DRAMA AND COMEDY.

THAT'S TRUE.

AND YOU BOTH HAVE GREAT REVIEWS.

I MENTIONED TO YOU, I SAW ONE THAT THAT, FOR YOU, COMPARING TO YOU ROBERT MOORE, ZERO MOSTEL, QUITE A COMPLIMENT.

A LITTLE MORE SERIOUS QUESTION.

WE TALK ABOUT THE ISSUES THAT ARE AT THE HEART OF ALL THIS.

AND THE ISSUES, THE BEST WAY TO TELL A STORY IS THROUGH PEOPLE.

SO YOU CAN TALK ABOUT ISSUES.

IF YOU CAN PUT A FACE ON IT.

IF YOU CAN MAKE A PERSON REPRESENT SOMETHING.

THAT'S THE BEST WAY TO TELL THE STORY.

I'M WONDERING ABOUT.

LOOK BACK TO EIGHT, TEN YEARS AGO WHEN THIS IS GETTING STARTED.

WE WERE TALKING ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF GAY RIGHTS AND THE U.S. SUPREME COURT.

AND WE MENTIONED THAT JUST THE MOST RECENT GALLUP POLL IN 2018 SHOWED THAT NOW, TWO-THIRDS OF THE AMERICAN POPULATION, ACCORDING TO THE POLL, ACCEPT THE NOTION OF GAY MARRIAGE.

TEN YEARS AGO, IT WAS COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE.

TWO-THIRDS SAID NO.

ONLY ONE-THIRD THAT YEAH.

I'M WONDERING WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE TIME.

DOES THIS TIMING IN SOME WAYS, DOES THIS MEAN ON THE STAGE NOW IN 2019, DOES IT ALLOW THIS TO BE MORE OF A SUCCESS?

GIVEN THAT THE ISSUES YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ARE, THAT OUR ATTITUDES HAVE CHANGED?

I THINK IT IS A GREAT QUESTION.

I TRULY BELIEVE THAT IT IS OBVIOUS THAT IT IS A MUCH SIMPLER TIME FOR MOST PEOPLE.

TO BE WHO THEY ARE.

LOVE WHO THEY LOVE.

BUT JUST THE OTHER DAY SOMEONE SHOWED ME AN ARTICLE OF THE, OF THIS EXACT SAME SITUATION HAPPENING.

I THINK IT IS MISSISSIPPI.

AND A GIRL WAS BANNED FROM HER PROM.

SO SADLY, THE SHOW IS STILL DEEPLY TIMELY.

IT HAPPENS EVERY YEAR.

EVERY YEAR THOROUGH OH, YES.

THERE ARE KIDS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHO, FOR SOME REASON OR OTHER, WHETHER IT IS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO TEAR A TOUX TO THE PROM, TAKE SOMEONE OF THE SAME SEX, THEY GET EXPELLED, THE PROM IS CANCELED, IT HAPPENS EVERY YEAR.

PEOPLE THINK IT IS ONE EVENT A LONG TIME AGO.

NO.

IT IS EVERY YEAR.

SOME OF THE OTHER INTERESTING STORIES, YOUR CHARACTER SEES THIS BRASH OVER THE TOP, FABULOUSLY EGOTISTICAL ACTOR.

BUT YOU HAVE AMONG SO MANY OTHER MOMENTS, ONE OF THEM, WE TALK ABOUT NOT HAVING BEEN TO YOUR OWN PROM.

AND A GREAT SONG ABOUT THAT.

AND IT'S INTERESTING, I FELT THAT THE AUDIENCE REALLY PLUGGED INTO THAT.

DO YOU GET A SENSE WHEN AUDIENCES PLUG INTO CERTAIN THINGS?

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS?

I LOVE THAT CAITLYN AND I ARE WITH YOU.

I THINK THAT THE REASON THAT PEOPLE ARE SO ABLE TO AT LEAST TO GET INTO THE STORIES, THAT LINE OF THINGS, IT IS VIA THE YOUNG GIRL'S HEART AND EYES.

I THINK YOU PLUG IN THROUGH HER.

LET ME ASK BUT THE AUDIENCE.

THE AUDIENCE WHEN WE WERE THERE, PROBABLY HALF WERE MY AGE.

WHAT SORT OF REACTION DO YOU GET FROM THE VARIOUS AGES AND BACKGROUNDS AND EXPERIENCES?

I GET A LOT OF THE YOUNG KIDS.

THE MESSAGES ON INSTAGRAM, FAN MAIL, CONVERSATIONS AT THE STAGE DOOR THAT ARE REALLY, THESE PEOPLE OPENING UP TO ME AND SAYING, YOU'RE TELLING MY STORY.

I'VE NEVER DENY REPRESENTED ON STAGE BEFORE.

I FEEL VALIDATED, I FEEL HEARD.

AND THAT JUST MEANS SO MUCH TO ME.

ESPECIALLY THAT THEY CAN COME AND HAVE THE COURAGE TO SAY THAT.

IT IS JUST OUTSTANDING TO ME.

AND IT IS SUCH A REFRESHING THING AND SO HEART BREAKING TO SEE ALL OF THAT.

SO MANY OF THEM THAT NEED TO SEE THEMSELVES IN YOU.

YES.

THIS WAS ONE GIRL WHO CAME UP TO ME AT THE STAGE DOOR.

SHE JUST GRABBED MY ARMS AND SHE SAID, I'M GAY.

MY MOM IS STANDING RIGHT BEHIND ME.

I HAVEN'T TOLD HER YET.

THIS SHOW MEN THE WORLD TO ME.

THANK YOU FOR THIS.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO NOW BUT THANK YOU.

AND I CRIED THROUGH BOTH SHOWS THE NEXT DAY.

KIDS LIKE THAT ARE SEEING IT.

AND THEY'RE BEING HEARD.

AND THAT IS WHY WE DO THIS.

SO THAT'S THE REACTION THAT I GET.

I CAN'T EVEN LIKE FATHOM IT.

I'VE SAID THIS BEFORE.

WE KNOW THAT THE TRUE VALUE OF THE ARTS AND THEATER IS NOT ONLY TO ENTERTAIN US BUT TO TEACH US.

MAKE US THINK, HELP US LEARN.

AND I THINK WHEN YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE PROM, YOU WILL BE MAGNIFICENTLY ENTERTAINED AND ALSO YOU'LL SAY, OKAY, I GET IT NOW.

WE HOPE MORE AND MORE PEOPLE FOR A LOT OF REASONS, BUT THE TWO OF ARE YOU FABULOUS.

THE ENTIRE CAST IS FABULOUS.

A PLEASURE TO SEE THE SHOW AND A PLEASURE TO CHAT WITH YOU.

THANKS.

A REMINDER FOR YOU, 'THE PROM' NOW PLAYING AT THE THEATER.

VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING 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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