METROFOCUS: APRIL 30, 2019

According to an investigation by independent news outlet The City, Mayor de Blasio is personally soliciting donations from sources looking to gain favor from his administration. The investigative reporter will join us to share their findings. In the 1990s, Felipe Lopez was known as “the Dominican Michael Jordan” around Harlem, Washington Heights and the South Bronx. Though his NBA career was cut short by a serious injury, he’s found success and happiness off the court. We’ll tell you about this immigrant’s story tonight. Move over Tribeca! There’s another film festival planting firm roots in the tri-state and it’s attracting A-list celebrities and major headlines. We have your preview of the Montclair Film Festival. We have the list of Tony Award nominations for the Broadway shows and actors being recognized for their excellence.

Aired on April 30, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THE CITY AND THE MAYOR ACCORDING TO AN INVESTIGATION, THE MAYOR IS SOLICITING DONATIONS FROM SOURCES LOOKING TO GAIN FAVORS CHASING IS DREAM AND SECOND CHANCES.

AND THOUGH HIS NBA CAREER WAS CUT SHORT BY A SERIOUS INJURY, AN IMMIGRANT STORY JUST AHEAD.

MOVE OVER.

THERE'S ANOTHER FILM FESTIVAL AND IT IS ATTRACTING 'A' LIST CELEBRITIES 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 --

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

MAYOR de BLASIO INSISTS HE FOLLOWED THE LAW.

BUT THE DEMOCRAT IS AGAIN ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT ETHICS AS HE FLIRTS WITH A RUN FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.

A NEW INVESTIGATION FROM THE CITY, THE NONPROFIT NEWS WEBSITE, FOUND THAT HE IS PERSONALLY SOLICITING DONATIONS FOR HIS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE.

THAT INCLUDES RAISING MONEY FROM PEOPLE LOOKING FOR FAVORABLE TREATMENT FROM CITY HALL.

HE'S USING SOME OF THAT MONEY TO PAY FOR HIS TRAVEL AS HE EXPLORES A PRESIDENTIAL BID.

LAST WEEK, WE TOLD BUT ANOTHER INVESTIGATION INVOLVING THE MAYOR AND HIS ETHICS.

THE CITY WAS ALSO BEHIND THAT STORY WHICH UNCOVERS THAT de BLASIO BROKE CITY ETHICS RULES DURING AN EARLIER FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN.

AND JOINING ME NOW IS THE CITY HALL REPORTER FOR THE CITY, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

WE'VE RECENTLY HAD THEM ON TO TALK ABOUT THE REPORT THAT YOU DID.

AND I'M WONDERING, WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO UNBERTH THE MAYOR'S FUNDRAISING TACTICS?

WELL, THAT REPORT FOUND THAT HE HAD DIRECTLY SOLICITED DONATIONS FROM PEOPLE WITH BUSINESS PENDING BEFORE THE CITY AND HE HAD BEEN WARNED A FEW TIMES THAT THE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST BOARD DIDN'T WANT THAT TO HAPPEN.

SO WHAT WE DECIDED TO DO WAS SEE, WELL, LET'S SEE IF HIS BEHAVIOR HAS CHANGED.

HE HAS THIS NATIONAL, POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE.

CALLED THE FAIRNESS PAC.

AND WE WENT THROUGH THE LIST OF DONORS AND WE COMPARED TO IT VARIOUS DATA BASES THAT SHOW US WHO HAS BUSINESS PENDING BEFORE THE CITY.

AND WE FOUND AT LEAST A HALF DOZEN EXAMPLES WHERE THE MAYOR HAD REACHED OUT TO SOLICIT MONEY FROM THESE PEOPLE.

WELL, CAN YOU GIVE US ONE OF THOSE EXAMPLES?

I FEEL LIKE THAT'S REALLY WHAT WILL SEND IT HOME FOR PEOPLE.

SURE.

THERE'S THIS GROUP, A REAL ESTATE GROUP IN BROOKLYN.

THEY'RE BUILDING A 43 STORY LUXURY COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL BUILDING DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN.

AND THEY BASICALLY USED AN LLC TO REGISTER THIS PROPERTY.

THEY NEED A LOT OF PERMISSION FROM THE CITY TO DO DIFFERENT THINGS.

THERE'S BUILDING PERMITS, YOU KNOW, WHEN ANYTHING IS FOUND WRONG.

THEY NEED TO LOBBY THE BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT TO ALLOW THEM TO RESUME WORK.

AND THE THREE TOP OFFICIALS AT THIS GROUP ARE REGISTERED WITH THE CITY.

AND THE MAYOR THAT, I WON'T SOLICIT MONEY FROM THEM.

OKAY.

HOWEVER, THEY HAVE OTHER RELATIVES WORKING AT THE SAME COMPANY WHO ARE GIVING DONATIONS USING, YOU KNOW, USING A DIFFERENT NAME.

USING THE REAL NAME FOR THE COMPANY.

BUT THIS SPECIFIC PROJECT IS REGISTERED UNDER A DIFFERENT LLC NAME.

SO TECHNICALLY, THEY'RE NOT IN THE BUSINESS DATABASE ALTHOUGH COULD YOU ARGUE, THEY'RE CONNECTED TO THE FIRM DOING THE BIG PROJECT IN BROOKLYN.

SO WHILE ALL OF THIS SOUNDS SHADY FOR LACK OF A BETTER DESCRIPTION, ON THE SURFACE, IS ANY OF IT ACTUALLY ILLEGAL?

ANY LAWS BROKEN?

I THINK THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF THE ARGUMENT HAS HINGED, THE MAYOR'S FOLKS, THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE COMMITTEE ARE SAYING, ACCORDING TO POLITICAL CAMPAIGN LAWS, WE'RE DOING EVERYTHING BY THE BOOK AND EVEN GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND.

YOU ARE ALLOWED TO RAISE MONEY FROM PEOPLE DOING BUSINESS WITH THE CITY FOR POLITICAL CAMPAIGN.

ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU HAVE THESE PRIOR RULINGS BY THE CONFLICT OF INTEREST BOARD THAT ARE SAYING, THE MAYOR SHOULDN'T PERSONALLY SOLICIT DONATIONS FROM PEOPLE WITH BUSINESS PENDING BEFORE THE CITY.

SO IT IS A QUESTION OF, YOU KNOW, WHETHER YOU WANT TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION IN THE CONTEXT OF WHAT IS LEGAL OR ETHICAL.

WELL, HAS THERE BEEN ANY BLOWBACK FOR THE MAYOR OR HIS ADMINISTRATION?

WELL, THERE HAVE BEEN A COUPLE PEOPLE WHO HAVE DONATED TO CAMPAIGNS IN THE PAST, WHO HAVE BEEN CONVICTED ESSENTIALLY OF BRIBERY.

OF TRYING TO INFLUENCE CITY HALL DECISIONS THROUGH GIVING MONEY.

I THINK WHAT HAS BEEN CHEER THROUGHOUT THIS ADMINISTRATION IS THAT MONEY WILL BUY YOU ACCESS.

I THINK WHAT HAS BEEN HARDER TO PROVE IS, DOES IT GET YOU A FAVORABLE DECISION THAT YOU WOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN OTHERWISE?

AND EVEN THOUGH THERE HAVE BEEN MULTIPLE INVESTIGATIONS, NONE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT, AS FAR AS WE KNOW.

SO THIS IS MORE A CASE OF, THIS LOOKS REALLY BAD.

BUT THAT NECESSARILY DOES NOT, NOT ANYTHING THAT HAS BEEN PROVEN THAT SOMEONE COULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR.

I GUESS IT DEPENDS.

TO THE EXTENT OF PAY TO PLAY, AN OBVIOUS NO-NO.

THAT HASN'T BEEN SHOWN BY ANY LAW ENFORCEMENT ENTITY.

BUT IT IS VERY PROVABLE THAT MONEY HAS GOTTEN DEVELOPERS, YOU KNOW, MORE RESPONSIVE FROM CITY HALL.

IT HAS GOTTEN THE MEETINGS WITH TOP LEVEL OFFICIALS IN THE GOVERNMENT.

AND THE AVERAGE JOE JUST, YOU KNOW, DOESN'T GET THE SAME TREATMENT.

AT TIMES PERHAPS.

SHOULD THE MAYOR CHOOSE TO RUN FOR OFFICE, WHAT SERVE BUZZING ABOUT, DOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS AFFECT HIM?

PART OF WHAT IT SEEMS LIKE HE'S ATTEMPTING TO PRESENT HIMSELF AS IS A MUCH MORE PROGRESSIVE, MORAL ALTERNATIVE TO THE OTHER CHOICES.

AND IT DEFINITELY POKES HOLES IN SOME OF HIS THEORIES OF HOW HE WANTS THE CITY TO BE.

HE ALWAYS REFERS TO IT AS WANTING TO MAKE NEW YORK AS THE FAIREST BIG CITY IN AMERICA.

PEOPLE MIGHT BE TEMPTED ON ASK, IS IT BETTER FOR PEOPLE WITH MONEY TO GET BETTER ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS?

WELL, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ANOTHER REPORT THAT WE CAN FIND OUT A LITTLE BIT, PULLING THE CURTAIN BACK ON HOW MONEY IS BEING RAISED BY THE MAYOR AND CITY HALL.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

MY PLEASURE.

> GROWING UP IN NEW YORK CITY, PHILIPPE LOPEZ WAS SO GOOD AT BASKETBALL THAT PEOPLE COMPARED HIM TO MICHAEL JORDAN.

HE WAS ALSO A SYMBOL FOR HOPE BACK IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.

HE MOVED TO THE NEW YORK WHERE HE BECAME THE TOP RANKED HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYER IN THE COUNTRY.

HE EVENTUALLY MADE IT TO THE NBA.

WHILE HE DIDN'T HAVE THE PRO CAREER OF MICHAEL JORDAN, HIS JOURNEY AND IMPACT OFF THE COURT ARE NOW THE FOCUS OF A NEW 30 FOR 30 DOCUMENTARY.

THIS IS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE ON POVERTY AND THE DREAM IN MANAGER.

THE DOMINICAN DREAM MAKES ITS BROADCAST DEBUT TONIGHT.

IT WAS THE HAY DAY OF HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL AND HE WAS THE AMBASSADOR.

GAMES WERE EVENTS IN THE MID 90s.

AND PHILIPPE WAS THE REASON WHY.

THE '90s IN NEW YORK CITY HAD SO MUCH TALENT IN BASKETBALL.

AND HE WAS THE GUY.

IT WASN'T EVEN CLOSE.

HE WAS LeBRON BEFORE LeBRON.

IT WOULD BE LIKE JAY-Z WALKING INTO A CLUB.

HE WALKED ON THE COURT AND YOU KNEW HE WAS GOING TO DESTROY EVERYBODY HE WAS A ROCK STAR.

A LEGIT ROCK STAR.

IN A TOWN THAT HAS SO MANY OTHER ROCK STARS, NONE OF THOSE ROCKS WERE SHINING THE WAY FELIPE WAS.

HE WAS THE MAYOR OF WASHINGTON HEIGHTS.

HE WAS THE KING OF NEW YORK.

JOINING ME NOW IS THE ONE, THE ONLY, THE BRONX' OWN FELIPE LOPEZ.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

YOUR 30 FOR 30 STORY WAS REALLY, REALLY COMPELLING.

IT WAS ONE OF THOSE STORIES THAT I THINK TAKES THE VIEWER BACK TO A POINT IN TIME.

WE FORGET ABOUT OUR FAVORITE PLAYERS.

I WANT TO START WHERE THE FILM STARTS WITH YOUR JOURNEY FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TO THE BRONX, NEW YORK.

WHAT WAS THAT LIKE FOR YOU?

IT WAS DIFFERENT.

IT WAS SHOCKING FOR ME COMING FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.

FIRST OF ALL, I WAS NOT ABLE TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE.

SO RIGHT AWAY, THAT WAS A BARRIER.

SOMETHING THAT I HAVE TO OVERCOME JUST HAVING THE SENSATION, FEELING A LITTLE OUT OF PLACE.

IT WAS SOMETHING THAT PUSHED ME, DROVE ME A LITTLE BIT.

IN THE ONE PLACE THAT I WAS ABLE TO BE COMFORTABLE WAS ON THE BASKETBALL COURT.

SO I KIND OF TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THAT I WAS ABLE TO PLAY BASKETBALL AT AN EARLY AGE.

TO BE EFFECTIVE, IT TAKES SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT I WAS FACING EVERY DAY THROUGH BASKETBALL.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT COMES THROUGH SO MUCH FROM WHAT I REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR STORY WHEN YOU FIRST MADE THAT HUGE SPLASH IN THE NEW YORK MEDIA, IT HAS FOR THE DOMINION COMMUNITY IN NEW YORK.

HOW DID THAT AFFECT YOU, HAVING ALL THOSE EXPECTATIONS ON A HIGH SCHOOL KID?

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT SPORTS, YOU TALK ABOUT LATINO, THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO YOUR MIND IS BASEBALL.

SO I WAS THE ONE KID OUT OF THE BLUE, SPANISH, THAT IT CAME INTO THE SCENE PRETTY FAST.

BY MY FOURTH YEAR IN THE UNITED STATES, PEOPLE STILL TRYING TO PUT EVERYTHING TOGETHER.

TRYING TO GET ACQUAINTED WITH THE WAY OF LIFE HERE AND I'M ON THE COVER OF 'SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'.

THAT MUST HAVE BEEN BIZARRE.

IT WAS TO THE POINT I HAD NO IDEA.

I WAS ABLE TO FIND OUT PRETTY QUICKLY.

EVERYWHERE I MOVED.

PEOPLE WANTED NO SIGN IT.

I THINK REALLY STRUGGLING MORE ABOUT BEING ON THE COVER OF 'SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.'

THAT IT CAME AROUND THE TIME LATINOS REALLY NEEDED A CITY.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE '90s, THE IMAGE THAT YOU HAVE, FOR LATINOS, SPECIALLY WASHINGTON HEIGHTS AREA, IT WAS SUCH A NEGATIVE CONNOTATION, BY HAVING THESE STORIES COMING OUT INTO THE SCENE THROUGH BASKETBALL AND MY PERSONA, IT WAS THAT PEOPLE REALLY EMBRACED.

WE GET A CHANCE TO SEE WHAT THAT EMBRACE LOOKED LIKE.

PRETTY MUCH, YOUR SECTION OF THE -- YEAH, THE FANS, IT WOULD BE A PARTY.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE FOR OUR VIEWERS A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT THAT PARTY LOOKED LIKE FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?

FOR ME, IT WAS MORE OF A DRIVE.

IT GAVE ME THE SENSATION THAT OKAY, I'M PLAYING FOR GUYS, EVERYTHING IS WELL.

I'M ALSO PLAYING FOR A COMMUNITY.

AND THAT COMMUNITY, WITH THE PEOPLE, WITH THE DRUMS, UP AND PLAYING MUSIC AND DANCING THE WHOLE TIME AND SCREAMING.

IT REALLY BROUGHT A LITTLE BIT OF SWAG, LATINO SWAG AND THE WARM BLOOD THAT WE HAVE.

IT WAS A PARTY WHILE I PLAYED.

WELL, SO MUCH OF YOUR STORY IS SUCH A QUINTESSENTIAL STORY.

THE IMMIGRANT COMING TO AMERICA AND REALLY REALIZING SO MANY OF YOUR DREAMS.

WHY WAS IT WHEN YOU WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL AND THUD CHANCE TO JUMP RIGHT INTO THE NBA, MAKING HUGE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, YOU OFTEN SAID TO GET YOUR EDUCATION.

MY MOTHER.

SHE WAS A TEACHER FOR 25 YEARS.

SO OUR COMMUNITY FOR THE WHOLE SACRIFICE, MY FATHER WAS GOING THROUGH IT.

IT WAS TO GIVE US THE OPPORTUNITY.

TO BECOME A BETTER PERSON.

I THINK YOU HAVE TO TAKE YOUR HAT OFF TO THE LeBRONS AND THE KOBES FOR THE GREAT SUCCESS STORIES.

BUT THERE ARE OTHER HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS THAT DID NOT DO TOO WELL.

SO NOW WHAT IS IT SUPPOSED TO DO FOR YOU?

I REALLY FEEL THAT NOW I'M MAKING THE JUMP TO THE NBA.

HE REALLY GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY, TO NBA KIDS FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS.

SOMEONE ABLE TO PROVIDE BACK.

NOT JUST FROM THE STANDPOINT OF SPORTS BUT EDUCATION, SO MANY.

I FEEL LIKE I'M BLESSED.

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE NO REGRETS ABOUT THE WAY EVERYTHING PANNED OUT.

WELL, I'M SITTING HERE TALKING ABOUT IT.

IT IS SUCH --

IT'S LIKE MIND BLOWING TO KNOW THAT.

MY WHOLE FACE IS ON THE BIG SCREEN.

THAT'S A GREAT NOTE TO END IT ON.

FELIPE LOPEZ, IT IS A GREAT HONOR TO MEET YOU.

YOU WERE ONE OF THOSE WHO SPARKED MY INTEREST IN BASKETBALL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I THOUGHT FOR HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE MY STORY.

FOR MORE ON HOW TO WATCH FELIPE, HEAD OVER TO OUR WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

BEN STILLER, STEPHEN COLBERT, THE GREAT OLYMPIA DUKAKIS, JUST SOME OF THE NAMES AT THE FILM FESTIVAL.

WITH OVER 150 SHORTHAND FEATURE FILMS, MUSICAL PERFORMANCES, IMPROV COMEDY AND SO MUCH MORE.

IT HAS EVOLVED OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS.

AND IT IS SOMETHING SO MUCH MORE THAN ANYONE ANTICIPATED.

HERE ARE MY GUESTS.

WELCOME TO BOTH OF YOU.

LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW THIS GUY GOT STARTED.

YOU SEE FILM FESTIVALS AROUND THE COUNTRY AND THE GENESIS IS OFTEN DIFFERENT.

I'M A NEW JERSEY KID.

GREW UP ON THE JERSEY SHORE.

STILL LIVE ON THE JERSEY SHORE.

VERY FAMILIAR WITH MONTCLAIR.

IT IS A GREAT TOWN.

HOW DOES THIS GET STARTED?

WELL, WE BASICALLY THOUGHT IT SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING WE CAN TRY TO ACHIEVE IN A COMMUNITY LIKE MONTCLAIR THAT HAS HAD A LOT OF PEOPLE LIVING THERE.

AND THIS WAS RIGHT AFTER THE RECESSION OF 2008.

AND WE'VE SEEN SEVERAL OF THE NONPROFITS THAT HAD SHUTTERED OR MOVED.

SO WE FELT IT WAS A BIT OF AN ECONOMIC BOOST.

IT HAS GOTTEN MUCH BIGGER.

IT WOULD SORT OF BRING TALENT TO OUR TOWN AND GIVE A BOOST TO THE RESTAURANTS AND THE RETAIL IN THE TOWN.

IT IS AELOUSLY DIVERSE COMMUNITY.

I THINK THERE'S A LONG HERITAGE OF DIVERSITY IN MONT CHAIR.

THERE'S A WIDE RANGE OF HOUSING.

WE HAVE REALLY BIG HOUSES AND CRAZY MANSIONS BUT WE ALSO HAVE SUBSIDIZED HOUSING AND WE'RE CLOSE TO NEWARK.

WE'RE PART OF THE SAME COUNTY.

MONTCLAIR HAS A REPUTATION OF BEING A VERY OPEN AND PROGRESSIVE PLACE.

WE'RE ONE OF THE FIRST COMMUNITIES, INTEGRATE MARRIAGES, SAME-SEX MARNRIAGES, THEY'RE PRETTY COMMON AND HAVE BEEN FOR A LONG TIME.

IT PROVED TO BE THE RIGHT PLACE.

WE WERE SURPRISED AT HOW RESPONSIVE THE COMMUNITY WAS.

ONE OF THE THINGS I WAS THINKING, ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS WE DID IN 2011 BEFORE WE STARTED.

WE SHOWED A DOCUMENTARY CALLED PAGE ONE ABOUT 'THE NEW YORK TIMES.'

AND IT REALLY FEATURED DAVID CARR, THE WONDERFUL JOURNALIST WHO LIVED IN MONTCLAIR AT THE TIME.

SO WE HAD A WONDERFUL SCREENING AND HALF 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' SHOWED UP BECAUSE THEY ALL LIVE IN MONTCLAIR.

THAT'S FUNNY.

DAVID CARR STOOD UP.

HE WAS REALLY FUNNY.

HE SAID GIVEN THE DETERMINATION THESE PEOPLE HAVE HAD TRYING TO GET ME TO THE SCREENING, THEY'RE GOING TO PUT ON ONE HECK OF A FILM FESTIVAL.

TOM, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF PUTTING SOMETHING LIKE THIS TOGETHER.

WE SAID IT HAS GROWN OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS.

150 DIFFERENT SHORT FILMS, FEATURE FILMS.

WHAT IS THE SELECTION PROCESS?

HOW DO YOU DECIDE IN.

WE HAVE A REALLY GREAT TEAM.

MYSELF AND TWO OTHERS.

THERE ARE TWO WAYS.

WE STARTED RIGHT AFTER LABOR DAY.

THAT IS THE START OF THE NEW YEAR FOR THE NEW WORLD.

IT WILL KICK OFF AT THAT TIME.

THAT'S WHEN THE NEW FROM FILMS AND THEN WE HAVE A BLIND SUBMISSION PROCESS WHERE ANYONE WHO WANTS TO CAN SEND UP THEIR FILM UNSOLICITED.

SO WE'RE GOING TWO DIRECTIONS AT ONCE.

WE'RUTKING THINGS THAT WE CAN GET OUR HANDS ON.

THE FILM BUSINESS IS VERY TIMELY.

WE WORK WITH THE NONPROFITS.

WE KNOW THEIR CALENDAR TWO YEARS IN ADVANCE.

THE ORCHESTRA KNOWS WHAT THEY'RE PLAYING IN 221.

WE KNOW THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE FILM FESTIVAL BECAUSE OF HOW FILM WORKS OF THE WE'RE IN A VERY SPECIFIC WINDOW.

SOME OF THEM WILL PREMIER THIS SEPTEMBER.

FLIPGS OPENING IN APRIL THAT HAVEN'T BEEN SEEN YET.

WE START LOOKING FOR FILMS IN OUR WHEEL HOUSE FOR OUR PROGRAM.

I WOULD THINK THE SELECTION PROCESSES, YOU DESCRIBE I AS A DELIGHTFUL DILEMMA FOR YOU.

YOU HAVE SO MANY CHOICES AND YOU HAVE TO PICK.

ABSOLUTELY.

IT IS A REAL BUMMER BECAUSE WE LOVE SO MUCH OF THE WORK.

WE'RE SPEAKING TO FILMS THAT HIGHLIGHT DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COMMUNITY.

WE'RE PREMIERING A FILM CALLED TOKEN.

I SHOULD MENTION THE YOUR CAREER, A WONDERFUL CAREER AS AN ACTOR, IN THE HOBBIT.

OBVIOUSLY STEPHEN COLBERT, A TOLKIEN EXPERT, THEY GOT TOGETHER AND GOT TO SEE AN ADVANCE SCREENING BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO GIVE NOTES ON THE ACCURACY OF THE ACTUAL FILM.

HEY, THEY WANTED ME TO GIVE NOTES.

THEY ASKED ME TO DO A Q AND A WITH THE TALENT.

THEN THEY WANTED TO BEAM IT INTO CINEMAS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

INYES IF THEY DO IT AT THE MOMONT CHAIR FILM FESTIVAL.

WE'VE NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE.

I VOLUNTEERED YOU TO DO THAT.

SUPER EXCITING THOUGH.

200 THEATERS.

YES.

ONE OF THE GREAT ADJUNCTS, THE GOOD ONES, NOT ONLY DO YOU GET TO SEE THE FILMS BUT THEIR CONVERSATIONS.

WHAT ABOUT SOME OF THE CONVERSATIONS THAT WILL TAKE PLACE?

WELL, WE HAVE TWO KINDS.

WE HAVE LONG EXTENDED CONVERSATIONS WHICH ARE USUALLY BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE.

SO FOR EXAMPLE, STEVE WILL BE WITH MINDY.

WE'RE SHOWING THE FILM SHE WROTE LATE NIGHT AFTER.

BUT THEY'LL HAVE EXTENDED CONVERSATION FOR ABOUT AN HOUR, HOUR AND A HALF.

AND HE'S DOING WITH IT BEN STILLER.

WE ALSO HAVE GREAT Q & As.

OUR AUDIENCES LOVE IT.

ONE THING MONT CHAIR HAS IS A DISCERNING AUDIENCE.

I GOT TO DO A BOOK SIGNING.

IT WAS REALLY ENGAGING.

THEY HAD GREAT QUESTIONS.

THAT'S REALLY OUR MISSION.

THE POWER OF STORY.

BEING A COMMUNITY, COMING TOGETHER, HAVING A DIALOGUE.

IT BUILDS EMPATHY, CONNECTION, IT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO THINK AND BE TOGETHER.

I THINK IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT.

WE OFTEN SAY THE GREAT VALUE OF THEATER AND FILM IS TO HELP US THINK.

ABSOLUTELY.

AND LOOKING AGAIN AT THE LINEUP THAT YOU HAVE, I'M SURE IT WILL DO THAT.

A GREAT TOWN.

THIS IS FANTASTIC.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR SPENDING SOME TIME AND TALKING WITH US.

AND A REMINDER FOR YOU, THE FILM FESTIVAL WILL BE KICKING OFF ON MAY 3rd.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

> TODAY THE BEST OF BROADWAY, WE'RE HONORED WITH THIS YEAR'S TONY AWARDS.

THE NOMINEES ARE -- ♪ BE SHURE TO CATCH OUR INTERVIEWS WITH SOME OF THIS YEAR'S TONY NOMINEES.

'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.

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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