METROFOCUS: APRIL 26, 2019

April 27, 2019 at 5:30 am

Mayor de Blasio’s now defunct fundraising group, Campaign for One New York, faces an ongoing state ethics probe. Joining us with the details is The City reporter Greg Smith. Plus, 33 years ago today, reactor #4 exploded in Chernobyl, creating the world’s worst nuclear accident. The Soviets’ secrets about what led up to the event, and it’s cover up, is now revealed. And, from “Night Court” to Nantucket, one of America’s favorite actors takes us an amazing sleigh ride.

Aired on April 26, 2019.

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>>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS."
MAYOR de BLASIO UNDER FIRE AS
HIS NOW DEFUNCT FUNDRAISING
GROUP FACES AN ONGOING STATE
ETHICS PROBE.
WE HAVE THE DETAILS.
MIDNIGHT IN CHERNOBYL.
IT WAS APRIL 26, 33 YEARS AGO,
THAT THE WORLD EXPERIENCED ITS
GREATEST NUCLEAR DISASTER.
IN A MOMENT, THE FACTORS THAT
LED TO THAT TERRIBLE ACCIDENT IN
THE FORMER SOVIET UKRAINE AND
THE DETAILS OF THE COVER-UP THAT
FOLLOWED.
AND WHAT DO THE DISNEY GROUP AND
A GIANT LOBSTER HAVE IN COMMON?
THEY'RE ALL PART OF A PLAY.
JOHN IS THE STAR.
THOSE STORIES AND MORE
"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."
WILL HE OR WON'T HE?
MAYOR de BLASIO SAID THIS WEEK
THAT HE WILL MAKE A DECISION
SOON ON RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.
THE DEMOCRAT HAS BEEN ON THE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL FOR MONTHS
LEADING MANY TO BELIEVE THAT HE
WILL MAKE IT OFFICIAL AND JOIN
THE PACKED 2020 RACE.
BUT ONE ISSUE THAT COULD COME UP
IF HE DOES RUN, ETHICS.
THE MAYOR FOUND HIMSELF
DEFENDING HIS ETHICS AGAIN AFTER
THE CITY, THE NEW NONPROFIT NEWS
OUTLET, PUBLISHED THIS REPORT
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
INVESTIGATION.
ACCORDING TO THE CITY, THE
REPORT REVEALED THAT DESPITE
WARNINGS, de BLASIO BROKE
CONFLICT OF INTEREST RULES BY
SOLICITING DONATIONS FROM PEOPLE
LOOKING FOR FAVORS FROM CITY
HALL.
THE MAYOR HAS PUSHED BACK.
>> I AND MY ADMINISTRATION HAVE
SHOWN THAT WE DO THINGS THE
RIGHT WAY.
WE DO THINGS ON THE MERITS.
WE DO THINGS LEGALLY AND
APPROPRIATELY.
ALL THESE MATTERS HAVE BEEN
LOOKED AT, INVESTIGATED, NO
FURTHER ACTION TAKEN.
THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO IT.
>> FOR A DEEPER DIVE, LET'S
BRING IN THE MAN WHO BROKE THIS
STORY FOR THE CITY,
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER GREG B.
SMITH.
GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK.
>> GLAD TO BE HERE.
>> LET'S GET INTO THIS REPORT.
THEY RELEASE AD REPORT TALKING
ABOUT THE MAYOR'S FUNDRAISING
AND SOME OF THE QUESTIONABLE
METHODS THAT HE HAS BEEN
PARTAKING IN THAT I BELIEVE HE
WAS WARNED ABOUT DOING.
>> IT IS A LITTLE COMPLICATED
BUT I'LL TRY TO BOIL IT DOWN TO
THIS.
THE MAYOR WHEN HE ARRIVED AT
CITY HALL IN 2014, CREATED A NOT
FOR PROFIT THAT WAS CALLED THE
CAMPAIGN FOR ONE NEW YORK.
THE IDEA OF IT WAS TO RAISE
MONEY TO PAY FOR POLITICAL
CONSULTANTS TO SUPPORT HIS
POLICIES, AND AT THAT TIME, HIS
BIG PUSH WAS, UNIVERSAL PRE-K
AND THEN ALSO AFFORDABLE
HOUSING.
THAT'S THE BASIC IDEA OF IT.
THE ISSUE IS THIS.
THE QUESTION IS, WHO DOES HE GET
MONEY FROM AND HOW MUCH MONEY
ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
SO DURING THE TIME PERIOD THAT
THE CAMPAIGN FOR ONE NEW YORK
WAS UP AND RUNNING, HE RAISED
$4.3 MILLION AND THE VAST
MAJORITY OF IT CAME FROM PEOPLE
WHO DO BUSINESS WITH HIS
ADMINISTRATION.
AND ARE ACTIVELY SEEKING TAX
BREAKS OR CITY PROPERTY.
THEY WERE DEVELOPERS.
LOTS OF THEM ARE DEVELOPERS.
THERE WAS A COMPANY THAT DOES
FILM, LOCATION STUFF IN THE CITY
THAT NEEDS PERMITS FROM THE
CITY.
SO MOST OF THIS MONEY THAT HE'S
RAISING IS COMING FROM PEOPLE
WHO NEED SOMETHING FROM HIM.
AND THE ISSUE IS THAT, CAN HE
PERSONALLY CALL HIS PEOPLE UP
AND ASK THEM FOR MONEY?
AND HE SOUGHT AND RECEIVED AN
OPINION FROM THE CITY CONFLICT
OF INTEREST BOARD THAT TOLD HIM
EXPLICITLY, YOU CAN ASK PEOPLE
FOR MONEY BUT YOU CANNOT ASK
PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING ACTIVE
BUSINESS WITH YOUR EXECUTIVE
BRANCH FOR ANYTHING.
AND THE ISSUE IN THIS DUI REPORT
THAT I OBTAINED UNDER THE
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW,
WHICH BY THE WAY, THAT MEANS
THAT IT WAS NOT MADE PUBLIC IN
THE FIRST PLACE, IS THAT HE WAS
WARNED NOT TO DO THIS AND HE DID
IT ANYWAY.
>> WHERE DOES THIS FALL INTO THE
PREVIOUS INVESTIGATION THAT
HAPPENED?
SURE.
THERE ARE TWO PREVIOUS
INVESTIGATIONS.
I'M SORRY.
THERE WERE THREE PREVIOUS
INVESTIGATIONS.
>> OKAY.
>> A LOT OF INVESTIGATIONS.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR ONE NEW YORK IS
THE MOST INVESTIGATED NOT FOR
PROFIT I'VE EVER HEARD OF.
THEY HAD THE MANHATTAN U.S.
ATTORNEY LOOKED IT A.
THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY
LOOKED IT A.
AND THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION
ALSO LOOKED AT IT.
ACTUALLY, THEY'RE STILL LOOKING
AT IT.
THE U.S. ATTORNEY FOUND THERE
WAS NO CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR.
SO THEY CLOSED THEIR
INVESTIGATION.
IT MAY BE MARCH OF 2016 WHERE
THEY BASICALLY SAID, THERE IS
NO, WE CANNOT MAKE A CRIMINAL
CASE.
HOWEVER, WE ARE GOING TO POINT
OUT TO THE PUBLIC THAT THE MAYOR
WAS RECEIVING MONEY FROM DONORS
WHO WERE SEEKING AND RECEIVING
FAVORABLE TREATMENT FROM CITY,
FROM HIS CITY HALL.
BUT THE PROBLEM WITH THE U.S.
ATTORNEYS' FINDINGS, THEY DIDN'T
SPELL IT OUT.
THEY DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT
WHICH DONOR, WHAT WERE THE
FAVORS, NONE OF THAT.
WHAT THE REPORT STATED WAS, THIS
IS WHAT HAPPENED.
SO HERE WE HAVE THE MAYOR
CALLING UP A DEVELOPER AT THE
TIME THE DEVELOPER IS DEALING
WITH TRYING TO GET SOME CITY
PROPERTY.
AND THE MAYOR IS CALLING THIS
DEVELOPER UP, THE MAYOR
PERSONALLY, BY THE WAY.
NOT SOMEBODY ELSE DOING IT FOR
HIM.
AND ASKING FOR MONEY FROM THIS
PERSON.
SO YOU PUT YOURSELF IN THAT
PERSON'S POSITION.
YOU HAVE THE MAYOR CALLING UP
AND ASKING FOR MONEY FOR YOU.
SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNTS OF MONEY.
BUT YOU WANT, YOU'RE TRYING TO
GET A TAX BREAK FROM THIS GUY'S
ADMINISTRATION.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO SAY?
WELL, NO, I'M SORRY.
I CAN'T HELP YOU.
HOW IS THAT TAX BREAK GOING?
SO HE WAS HITTING UP PEOPLE WHO
ARE DOING ACTIVE BUSINESS WITH
HIS ADMINISTRATION AND HE HAD
BEEN WARNED, NOT ONCE BUT TWICE
TO NOT DO THAT.
AND HE BASICALLY JUST TOOK IT
UPON HIMSELF TO IGNORE THIS,
THESE WARNINGS.
AND THE REPORT SUBSTANTIATED
THAT.
THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED IN HIS
ADMINISTRATION.
THE FIRST TIME THE DOI HAS HAD
THIS AGAINST THE MAYOR OF NEW
YORK.
I CAN'T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME
IT HAPPEN.
WHEN THEY GAVE IT TO ME, IT WAS
REDACTION CENTRAL.
THEY HAD CENSORED LIKE A
DRAMATIC PORTION OF THE FINAL
REPORT.
IT WAS LIKE BLACK MAGIC MARKER.
>> IT FEELS ODD THAT IT REFLECTS
THE MUELLER REPORT SO MUCH IN
TERMS OF THE REDACTIONS.
>> THEIR POSITION, FIRST OF ALL,
THEY DIDN'T PUBLICLY RELEASE IT.
WHEN THEY WERE FORCED TO DO SO,
THEY TURNED OVER A PARTIAL
VERSION OF THE THING.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S UNDER THAT
REPORT BECAUSE THEY BLACKED OUT
SO MUCH OF IT.
I THINK THE PUBLIC SHOULD SEE
WHAT'S YOU UNDERSTAND THAT.
MY UNDERSTANDING OF IT IS, WELL,
PART OF THE REASON THEY DIDN'T
WANT TO RELEASE IT WAS, SOME OF
IT IS UNSUBSTANTIATED.
SO THERE WAS SOME OTHER
ALLEGATION IN THERE THAT THEY
DIDN'T DISCLOSE.
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE
ALLEGATION IS AND WE DON'T KNOW
WHAT THE RESULTS OF THE
ALLEGATION ARE.
WE KNOW THERE ARE THREE FULL
PAGES ARE BLACKED OUT.
THEY DID A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF
INVESTIGATING BUT WE DON'T KNOW
WHAT HAPPENED.
THEN THEY BLACKED OUT THE NAMES
OF EVERYBODY EXCEPT FOR THE
MAYOR.
YOU CANNOT TELL WHAT THE NAMES
OF THE DEVELOPERS ARE.
WE COULD FIGURE OUT A COUPLE OF
THEM.
BUT YOU CAN'T TELL.
AND YOU CANNOT TELL THE DOLLAR
FIGURES.
HOW MUCH, WHEN THE MAYOR CALLED
UP AND SAID, CAN YOU GIVE ME
SOME MONEY?
HOW MUCH MONEY DID THE
DEVELOPER, WHAT WAS THE CHECK?
AND I CAN TELL YOU THAT USUALLY
WITH POLITICAL DONATIONS, THERE
IS A $4950 CAP.
NOBODY CAN GIVE ANY CANDIDATE
WITHIN AN ELECTION CYCLE MORE
THAN $4950.
BUT WITH THE CAMPAIGN FOR ONE
NEW YORK, THERE WAS, THE SKY IS
THE LIMIT.
SOME OF THE CHECKS WERE FOR
$25,000, $50,000, 100, 150, 250,
AND $350,000 CHECKS THAT WENT TO
THE MAYOR FOR PEOPLE DOING
BUSINESS WITH THE CITY.
>> SO THEN DOES THIS BECOME AN
ISSUE OF, THIS LOOKS REALLY BAD
FOR THE MAYOR?
OR IS THERE ANY KIND OF LEGAL OR
PERHAPS POLITICAL REPERCUSSIONS
HE CAN POSSIBLY SUFFER FROM
THIS?
>> POLITICAL?
HE'S THREATENING TO ANNOUNCE TO
A CANDIDACY FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.
NOW, HOW DOES THIS PLAY IN DES
MOINES?
I DON'T KNOW.
I THINK THAT IT IS A LEGITIMATE
QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER THIS IS
AN ETHICAL PERSON.
>> WELL, I THINK AS WE MOVE
FORWARD WITH AT LEAST DEFINITELY
THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, THAT
WILL BECOME AN ISSUE SHOULD HE
CHOOSE TO PUT HIS HAT IN THE
RING.
>> CERTAINLY, PARTICULARLY IF
HE'S RUNNING AGAINST A PRESIDENT
WHO HAS HIMSELF CREATED A
CERTAIN AMOUNT OF ETHICAL
REPERCUSSIONS.
HOW CAN YOU RUN AGAINST SOMEONE
LIKE TRUMP IF YOU HAVE YOUR OWN
ETHICAL ISSUES?
AND THE FIRST THING I WOULD SAY
IS, WHY DON'T THEY JUST DISCLOSE
THIS STUFF?
THERE'S A LACK OF TRANSPARENCY
THAT DOES NOT HELP THE MAYOR
MAKE THE ARGUMENT THAT HE'S THE
MOST ETHICAL PERSON HE'S EVER
MET.
AND HE HASN'T REALLY ADDRESSED
THAT YET.
>> ALL RIGHT.
WELL, WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR
REPORTING.
I'M SURE YOU WILL DEFINITELY
PRESS HIM ON THAT.
MORE TO COME, DEFINITELY.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US
ON THE PROGRAM.
>> HAPPY TO BE HERE.
>>> 1986, PLACE, CHERNOBYL.
IN THE HEART OF THE UKRAINE
WHERE A NUCLEAR REACTOR
EXPLODED.
30 PEOPLE DIED AND 50,000 FLED
THEIR HOMES.
RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT SPREAD TO AN
AREA LARGER THAN LONG ISLAND,
MAKING IT A VIRTUAL NO MAN'S
LAND.
THE PLANT WAS ENCASED UNDER A
GIANT DOME.
30 YEARS LATER, THAT DOME IS
CRUMBLING AND CHERNOBYL'S THREAT
IS ONCE AGAIN IMMINENT AS
ANOTHER DISASTER LOOMS.
DEADLY RADIATION IS BEING
RELEASED.
>> CHERNOBYL.
A CATASTROPHIC NUCLEAR DISASTER.
THREATENING AGAIN.
NOW ENGINEERS BUILD A MASSIVE
STRUCTURE TO PREVENT ANOTHER
RADIOACTIVE CRISIS.
>> EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.
>> BUILDING CHERNOBYL.
>> NOW MORE THAN 30 YEARS LATER,
THERE ARE MANY QUESTIONS STILL
LINGERING ABOUT WHAT EXACTLY
HAPPENED THE NIGHT OF THE
TRAGEDY.
HERE TO BRING US SOME INSIGHT,
ADAM, WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF
MIDNIGHT IN CHERNOBYL.
NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.
>> THANK YOU.
>> I HAVE TO TELL YOU, THIS
READS LIKE A NOVEL.
LIKE A MYSTERY DISASTER NOVEL
WHICH I SHOWN A COMPLIMENT.
>> THAT WAS THE IDEA.
YES.
>> YOU ACHIEVE IT.
>> FIRST QUESTION IS, OF MOST
AUTHORS, WHAT DREW YOU TO THE
STORY AND TO MAKE DECIDE IT'S
TIME TO WRITE THIS?
>> WELL, MY REPORTING ON THE
STORY GOES BACK QUITE A LONG
WAYS IN 2006.
I INITIALLY WENT TO RUSSIA AND
UKRAINE TO WRITE A MAGAZINE
STORY.
AT THAT POINT I WAS JUST
INTERESTED IN RECONSTRUCTING THE
EVENT THROUGH THE ACCOUNTS OF
EYEWITNESSES.
WHEN I BEGAN TALKING TO THEM, I
REALIZED THERE WAS MORE TO THE
STORY THAN I HAD KNOWN ABOUT.
AND BOOKS WERE BEING WRITTEN TO
THAT POINT.
AND SO THEN I KNEW THERE WAS A
MORE, A FULLER ACCOUNT TO BE
WRITTEN.
AND THEN I WENT BACK AGAIN IN
2011 FOR ANOTHER STORY.
AND AT THAT POINT, THIS WAS
ABOUT A TOTALLY DIFFERENT ASPECT
OF THE ACCIDENT.
ABOUT THE ECOLOGICAL ASPECT.
THE WILDLIFE.
THERE IS THIS IDEA THAT IT HAD
BECOME A RADIOACTIVE SAFARI PARK
WHERE ANIMALS THRIVE IN SPITE OF
RADIATION.
I WAS REPORTING ON THAT.
AT THAT POINT I DID SOMETHING IN
THE COURSE OF REPORTING.
I WENT TO PLACES, AND I SWORE I
WOULD NEVER GO BACK AGAIN.
THEN ABOUT THREE YEARS LATER, I
FOUND MYSELF SITTING AT MY DESK
THINKING, THERE'S THIS OTHER
PART OF THE STORY.
AT THAT POINT, I REALIZED THAT I
HAD TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT IT.
>> IT PULLED YOU IN.
>> YES.
WHEN YOU SAID YOU WENT BACK AND
YOU WERE SURPRISED BY THINGS,
WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU THINK,
LET'S FOCUS FIRST ON THE EVENT
ITSELF AND THE FOLLOW-UP.
THE INITIAL ATTEMPT TO COVER UP.
DID YOU LEARN THINGS ABOUT THAT
THAT YOU HAD NOT KNOWN BEFORE?
THROUGH YOUR OTHER REPORTING?
>> WELL, THAT WAS ONE OF THE
MAIN POINTS THAT DREW ME IN IN
2006 WHEN I REALIZED, EVEN THE
READING I HAD DONE.
I HAD DONE A LOT OF STUFF TO
BEGIN REPORTING IN THE RUSSIAN
UKRAINE.
ONE OF THE STANDARD QUESTIONS, I
ASKED ALL THE EYEWITNESSES IN
2006, WHAT TO YOU IS THE MOST
FRIGHTENING MOMENT OF THE EVENT?
OBVIOUSLY, I EXPECTED PEOPLE TO
SAY, WELL, I WAS IN THE BUILDING
AND THIS TREMENDOUS EXPLOSION, I
THOUGHT THE WAR WITH AMERICANS
HAD BEGUN.
WHICH IS WHAT ONE PERSON SAID TO
ME.
THIS ONE GUY IS A PHYSICSIST WHO
HAD ENORMOUS EXPERIENCE SERVING
IN THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY.
I ASKED HIM THIS QUESTION.
HE DIDN'T SAY THAT.
HE SAID FOR ME, THE MOST
FRIGHTENING MOMENT, MAY 5 OR 6,
WHEN ME AND ALL THE OTHER
PHYSICSISTS AROUND THE PLANT
THOUGHT THERE WOULD BE A SECOND
EXPLOSION.
IT WOULD BE EVEN MORE EXPLOSIVE
AND WE THOUGHT WE WOULD DIE.
SO AT THAT POINT, HOW DID I NOT
KNOW ABOUT THIS?
THAT TO ME WAS THE MOST
SURPRISING THING?
>> YOU TALK ABOUT IT IN THE
BOOKS.
YOU TALK ABOUT THE NOTION THAT
THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN
PREDICTABLE.
PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO
SEE THE CHANCES OF THIS
HAPPENING.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT WAS?
>> TO GO BACK INTO THE STRUCTURE
AND THE NATURE OF THE SOVIET
UNION.
IT WAS BUILT ON SECRECY AND
LIES.
BUT THE APPROXIMATE CAUSES WERE
THE DESIGN FAULTS IN THE
REACTOR.
THE PEOPLE THAT BUILT AND
DESIGNED IT KNEW ABOUT IT.
MORE THAN TEN YEARS THAT THE
ACCIDENT HAPPENED.
SO THAT ALONE, YOU KNOW, WAS AN
INDICATION THAT THERE WERE
PEOPLE WITHIN THE NUKE INDUSTRY.
WITHIN THE MINISTRY OF NEEDING
MACHINES ALL DAY.
THE MONO LITHIC MINISTRY OF THE
SOVIET UNION THAT RAN NOT ONLY
THE ATOM WEAPONS PROGRAM BUT
ALSO ALL THE FUEL CYCLES FOR THE
CIVILIAN STATION.
THOSE PEOPLE KNEW THERE WERE
THESE PROBLEMS.
THEY COVERED THEM UP.
MINIMIZED THEM AND KEPT DETAILS
EVEN FROM THE PEOPLE WHO
OPERATED THE PLANT.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR VISITS
BACK.
IN CHERNOBYL NOW.
AND I WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT
THAT THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE
THAT ARE STILL ALIVE, THAT HAD
BEEN THERE, AND I THINK SOME OF
THEM ARE STILL, THIS ONE IS
INVOLVED IN THE NUCLEAR
INDUSTRY.
>> THAT WAS SOMETHING I WAS
SURPRISED BY RIGHT AT THE
BEGINNING 12 YEARS AGO.
I THOUGHT I WOULD FIND PEOPLE
WHO ARE PERIPHERAL TO IT.
AMONG THE FIRST PEOPLE I MET,
THEY WERE PEOPLE INSIDE THE
PLANT AT THE INSTANT OF THE
EXPLOSION.
NOT ONLY SURVIVED THAT BUT
SURVIVED UNTIL THE PRESENT DAY.
THERE IS ONE GUY, BORIS, WHO I
INTERVIEWED A COUPLE OF TIMES
WHO WAS IN THE CONTROL ROOM AT
THE MOMENT OF THE EXPLOSION.
AND HE NOT ONLY SURVIVED BUT
THEN WENT BACK TO WORK IN THE
NUCLEAR INDUSTRY AND THEN
RECENTLY WAS APPOINTED THE HEAD
OF THE UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR SAFETY
BOARD.
>> HOW ABOUT THE AFTERMATH?
IT LOOKS LIKE MEDICALLY, THE
PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN IN THE
PLANT, THE PEOPLE AROUND THE
PLANT, WHAT DID YOU FIND ABOUT
THAT?
>> WELL, I MEAN, THE PEOPLE WHO
RECEIVED THE WORST LEVELS OF
EXPOSURE IN THE HOURS AND DAYS
AFTER THE EXPLOSION, YOU KNOW,
THEY SUFFERED VERY SEVERE
RADIATION INDUSTRIES.
AND MANY, THE 30 PEOPLE YOU
MENTIONED, THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE
WHO DIED.
OTHER PEOPLE WERE AFFECTED BUT
RECOVERED.
SO THERE WERE SOME PEOPLE THAT I
SPOKE TO WHO SPENT MONTHS IN
HOSPITAL.
BUT EVENTUALLY, THEIR HEALTH
RECOVERED AND THEN THEY HAD TO
LIVE WITH THE LONG TERM
CONSEQUENCES OF WHAT HAPPENED.
THEY WOULD KEEP GOING FOR TWREMT
SKIN GRAFTS, REMAIN ON
MEDICATION.
AND THOSE PEOPLE COULD NEVER
RETURN TO WORK AT A NUCLEAR PLAN
BECAUSE OF THEIR EXISTING
RADIATION EXPOSURE.
BUT IF YOU'RE ASKING MORE
BROADLY ABOUT PEOPLE IN THE
WIDER POPULATION, YOU KNOW,
THERE WERE 5 MILLION PEOPLE IN
THE AREAS THAT WERE WORST
AFFECTED.
IN UKRAINE, BELARUS.
AND REALLY, NO KIND OF
COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF THEIR
HEALTH HAS EVER BEEN DONE.
IT'S BEEN DONE PIECEMEAL.
SO AT THIS POINT, PARTLY BECAUSE
OF THAT AND BECAUSE THE SOVIETS
ATTEMPTED TO COVER UP AND
MINIMIZE WHAT HAPPENED, WE'LL
PROBABLY NEVER KNOW WHAT THE
HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF THE
ACCIDENT FOR THOSE PEOPLE ARE.
>> AS I AM IN THE BEGINNING, IT
IS A MARVELOUS READ.
IT DOES INDEED READ LIKE A
NOVEL.
AND CERTAINLY IT TELLS US SO
MUCH.
EVEN PEOPLE WHO THOUGHT THEY
KNEW EVERYTHING THERE WAS TO
KNOW ABOUT CHERNOBYL WILL BE
SHOCKED WHEN THEY REALIZE HOW
MUCH THEY DIDN'T KNOW.
THANKS FOR SPENDING SOME TIME
WITH US.
APPRECIATE IT.
>> THANK YOU.
>> CONGRATULATIONS.
GREAT WORK.
>> THANK YOU.
>>> THE PLAY IS A PLAY WITH A
POSSIBLE MURDER, ADULTERY, WALT
DISNEY, A MUNCHKIN, ROMAN
POLANSKI AND A LOBSTER.
IN OTHER WORDS, A VERY WEIRD AND
VERY FUNNY PLAY MADE ALL THE
FUNNIER BY THE LEAD ACTOR, JOHN
LARROQUETTE.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US HERE.
>> YOU'RE RIGHT.
TO SAY WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT
IS A BIT CHALLENGING.
WHAT DO YOU SAY THE PLAY IS
ABOUT?
>> A MAN IS CONFRONTED WITH HIS
PAST EXPERIENCE BY THESE TWO
VISITORS.
AND HE DECIDES TO TELL THE
AUDIENCE IN ESSENCE WHAT
HAPPENED.
BUT MEMORY IS FAULTY, FIRST OF
ALL.
AND IT IS SUBBIVE.
AND SO HE TELLS THE STORY.
AND I DON'T NECESSARILY THINK
THAT IT IS REALLY WHAT HAPPENED
AT ALL.
IT'S WHAT HE REMEMBERED
HAPPENED.
I'VE BEEN OFTEN ASKED TO WRITE A
MEMOIR, WHICH I DON'T THINK I
WILL, BUT I WILL SAY THIS IS A
TRUE STORY AND SOME OF IT
ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
AND I THINK WITH JOHN'S WRITING,
YOU KNOW, IT IS THAT WAY.
HOW FAULTY IS OUR MEMORY?
CONSTRUCT YOUR MEMORY.
THERE ARE THOSE ELEMENTS IN IT
AND JOHN IS A GREAT WRITER, A
SURREAL COMEDY WRITER BUT ALSO
TOUCHES ON DEEP ISSUES.
>> YES, WHEN I SAW IT, TO ME, IT
WAS LIKE FARCICAL DAVID LYNCH
MOVIE.
WHEN YOU REALIZE YOU HAVE, TO
ME, YOU HAVE TO USE DREAM LOGIC.
IT ALL FITS INTO PLACE.
THAT'S THE WAY I SAW IT.
YOU CAN SEE THE SAME THING
HAPPENING TO PEOPLE ALL AROUND
ME.
YOU'RE VERY CLOSE TO THE
AUDIENCE.
HOW TO THEY RESPOND?
>> I CAN SEE THEM AND I LOOK AT
THEM.
I TALK TO YOU.
I TALK TO THE AUDIENCE.
AND SOMETIMES IT OFFPUTTING.
I TRY NOT TO FOCUS COMPLETELY.
IF YOU LOOK AT SOMEBODY TELLING
YOU SOMETHING AND THEY'RE
GOING -- YOU WONDER, THEY DON'T
KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
I'D BETTER MOVE.
ON AS AN ACTORTION YOU DON'T
WANT IT TO AFFECT YOUR
PERFORMANCE SO MOSTLY I TRY TO
LOOK INTO THE DARK, LIKE AT THE
FOURTH ROW.
BUT I CAN TELL WITHIN 30 SECONDS
OF THE LIGHTS GOING UP IF THE
AUDIENCE IS LEANING FORWARD,
READY FOR THE STORY OR IF
THEY'RE HELEANING BACK SAYING,
SHOW ME.
IF THEY'RE LEANING BACK, SHOW
ME, THEN IT'S MY JOB TO SHOW
THEM BUT NOT TO REACH OUT AND
GRAB THEM BECAUSE THAT MAKES YOU
RECOIL MORE.
YOU JUST DO THE PLAY.
WE'VE REHEARSED IT ENOUGH.
JERRY IS A GREAT DIRECTOR AND WE
HAVE OUR SCHEMATIC FOR EVERY
NIGHT THAT WE TRY TO DUPLICATE.
THE PLAY IS THE PLAY.
HOW YOU RECEIVE IS IT REALLY NOT
MY CONCERN.
IT SHOULDN'T BE.
BECAUSE IF I'M CONCERNED WITH
HOW YOU RECEIVE IT, I MIGHT
ALTER IT TRYING TO GET YOU TO
RECEIVE IT AND THEN WE LOSE THE
HEART OF IT.
>> THIS IS A PLAY WHERE YOU'RE
IN EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY SCENE.
NOT ONLY THAT, YOU'RE THE CENTER
IN WHICH EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE
ROTATES.
THE JUGULAR WHO KEEPS ALL THESE
BIZARRE PLATES UP IN THE AIR.
DIDN'T YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE A
BIT DAUNTING?
>> I WAS AN IDIOT.
I THOUGHT, I HAVE NOT DONE
SOMETHING LIKE THIS OBVIOUSLY
FOR A LONG TIME.
AND I WAS SITTING AT HOME WITH
ELIZABETH, MY WIFE.
AND I SAID, YOU KNOW, CAN I
CARRY THIS WATER AT MY AGE?
I'M NOT YOUNG ANYMORE.
BY ANY DEFINITION.
EXCEPT MAYBE A TORTOISE.
AND I THOUGHT, IT IS A CHALLENGE
BUT I HAVE TO TAKE IT ON BECAUSE
OF WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE.
>> AS I SAY, MOST PEOPLE KNOW
ABOUT THE PLAY, IT IS VERY AL.
BUT "WALL STREET JOURNAL" CRITIC
SAID THIS ABOUT IT.
I LAUGHED AT ITS WILD PLOT
TWISTS, LOUDLY AND A LOT BUT I
ALSO WATCHED THE LAST SCENE
THROUGH TEARS.
I DIDN'T WATCH THE LAST SCENE
THROUGH TEARS EXACTLY BUT I KNOW
WHAT HE MEANS.
THERE IS A TRANSFORMATION IN
YOUR CHARACTER.
IT IS A MILD, GENTLE VERSION OF
EBENEZER SCROOGE IN THE
CHRISTMAS CAROL.
YOU SEE HER RECONNECT WITH HIS
HUMANITY.
IS THAT TOO MUCH?
>> I DON'T THINK AT ALL.
I THINK WHEN HE, ONE OF THE
CHALLENGES FOR ME WAS TO THINK,
TO DECIDE WHEN HE RECOGNIZES
THEM FROM HIS PAST.
WHEN THEY COME INTO THE OFFICE
WITH THE BOOK, NOT GIVING AWPLO.
THAT'S WHAT IT IS.
HE LOVED THESE KIDS.
HE TRIED TO HELP THEM ESCAPE
FROM WHATEVER SITUATION.
HOW MUCH OF IT IS REAL, WHO
KNOWS?
I BELIEVE, BECAUSE THE MAY HAS
BEEN CUT SOMEWHAT, THERE WAS
EVEN MORE ON STAINING ABOUT HIS
TRYING TO HELP THEIR PRESENT
TIME LIFE.
NOW IT IS JUST GIVING THEM
SOMETHING OF THEIR MOTHER.
AND YES, HE COULD HAVE SAID,
KIDS, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
HE TRIED TO GIVE THEM SOMETHING
TO MAKE THEIR LIVES MORE
COMPLETE.
TO PUT A SMALL PEACE OF MIND.
>> WE'RE OUT OF TIME.
THIS PLAY ENDS MAY 5.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS COMING UP
AFTER THAT?
ANY MORE NARRATIONS?
ANY NEW VERSION OF THE TEXAS
CHAIN SAW --
>> ISN'T IT AMAZING THAT THAT
STICKS AROUND 45, 50 YEARS
LATER?
?
NO.
MY ONLY PLANS ARE TO KILL SOME
FISH AND EAT THEM.
>> THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
>> NANTUCKET SLEIGH RIDE IS
PLAYING THROUGH MAY 5.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, YOU CAN
VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT
METROFOCUS.ORG.
>>> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO
TONIGHT, LET ME TELL BUT A
WONDERFUL EXTENSION TO
"METROFOCUS."
OUR NEW TWICE WEEKLY PODCAST
WITH ME AS YOUR HOST.
ON IT, WE'LL GET TO EXPLORE IN
DEPTH CONVERSATION THAT'S ARE A
LITTLE LESS FILTERED THAN THEY
ARE ON TELEVISION AND A LOT MORE
INTIMATE.
ON THE PODCAST, I'LL TALK TO AN
ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF GUESTS
WITH AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT
ATTITUDE.
THE PRICE OF JOINING THIS
PODCAST, COMPLETE WITH NEW
YORKERS FROM THE STREETS TO CITY
HALL AND FROM WALL STREET TO
BROADWAY?
ABSOLUTELY FREE.
SO HEAD ON OVER TO iTUNES OR
SOUND CLOUD TO JOIN ME IN THIS
ECLECTIC MIX OF PERSONALITIES AS
WE EXPLORE OUR CITY WITH UNIQUE
"METROFOCUS."
FRESH NEW CONTEXT EVERY TUESDAY
AND THURSDAY.
I'LL SEE YOU THERE.
>> "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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