METROFOCUS: JULY 9, 2019

July 10, 2019 at 5:30 am

The comedian, author and social commentator Colin Quinn will join us to break down how and why he sees our country as “dysfunctional and divided.” We have an intimate conversation with award-winning cult-classic filmmaker John Waters. Why did the FBI keep a secret file on Broadway legend Oscar Hammerstein? His grandson will join us and reveal details about the man behind the music.

Aired on July 9, 2019.

Transcript Print

>>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS,"
"RED STATE BLUE STATE," COLIN
QUINN.
THE COMEDIAN, AUTHOR AND SOCIAL
COMMENTATOR BREAKS DO YOU KNOW
HOW AND WHY HE SEES OUR PERFECT
UNION AS DYSFUNCTIONAL AND
DIVIDED.
>>> AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION
WITH THE KING OF CAMP.
CULT CLASSIC FLICKMAKER JOHN
WATERS BARES ALL AND WHY DID THE
FBI KEEP A SECRET FILE ON
MUSICAL LEGENDS OSCAR
HAMMERSTEIN?
IN A MOMENT, HIS GRANDSON
REVEALS ALL ABOUT THE MAN BEHIND
THE MUSIC.
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 --
>> WE STARTED OUT WITH 13
COLONIES.
WE GAME BECAME 50 STATES.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH 13 COLONIES?
13 STEAMS LIKE PLENTY.
WE'RE ALREADY BIGGER THAN
ENGLAND AND FRANCE PUT TOGETHER.
BUT WE GOT GREEDY.
WE COULDN'T TAKE THE HINT FROM
GOD.
GOD PUT MOUNTAIN RANGES, RIVERS
LIKE TO INDICATE THOSE ARE
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.
THE GRAND TETONS, THE
MISSISSIPPI, THE ROCKIES,
NATURAL BORDERS.
EUROPE KNEW, EUROPE'S THE SAME
SIZE AS US, MADE A BUNCH OF
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES BECAUSE THEY
UNDERSTOOD EVERY 700 MILES,
PEOPLE HAVE A DIFFERENT
PERSONALITY.
DO YOU THINK HUNG GI RA AND
SCOTLAND HAVE LESSES IN COMMON
THAN UTAH AND NEW JERSEY.
>> POLITICAL DIVISION IN THE
UNITED STATES, A TOPIC RIFE FOR
CONTEMPLATION SATIRE AND EVEN
HUMOR.
COLIN QUINN KNOWN FOR BEING
"SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE"'S WEEKEND
UPDATE HOST BUT AN AUTHOR, A
STANDUP COMIC, KNOWN FOR HIS
COMEDY SPECIALS ALL DONE IN A
PURE AUTHENTIC STYLE THAT ONLY A
REAL NEW YORKER CAN DELIVER
STARRING IN HIS LATEST ONE-MAN
SHOW CALLED "RED STATE BLUE
STATE" AND TAKES ON WASHINGTON
AND LAYS BARE WHAT HE SAYS ARE
THE CAL AMITIES ON BOTH SIDES O
THE POLITICAL DIVIDE.
>> IT'S GREAT TO BE ON.
>> THERE'S A LOT I WANT TO TALK
TO YOU.
>> OKAY.
>> HERE'S MY STRUGGLE.
HELP ME WITH IT.
OFTENTIMES I'LL HAVE SOMEBODY
DOING A SHOW AND SAY HERE'S THE
SHOW THE YOU'RE DOING.
I'LL GIVE A SENTENCE OR TWO TO
ENCAPSULATE IT.
>> RIGHT.
>> I'M STRUGGLING FIGURING HOW
WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS SHOW IF
SOMEBODY SAIDCY SAW SU ON
BROADWAY AGAIN.
WHAT'S THIS ABOUT?
>> HOW FAR WE FALL BASICALLY AS
AN IDEA WHICH WHICH WAS A GREAT
IDEA OF COMPROMISE BUT IT REALLY
JUST DETERIORATES LIKE
EVERYTHING ELSE.
MAYBE IT'S ABOUT HOW EVERYTHING
FALLS APART.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
IT'S BASICALLY TRYING TO SAY
HEY, GUYS, WE'RE GOING TO HEAD
FOR SEVL WAR SOON.
PEOPLE BETTER STOPPING THE WAY
THEY'RE BEHAVING UNLESS YOU WANT
TO GO TO WAR.
IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.
>> IT'S INTERESTING HOW MUCH
HUMOR IS DERIVED FROM CONFLICT.
>> ALL FROM CONFLICT.
>> THE TRUTH IN HUMOR.
YOU TALK HERE ABOUT WE ARE THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
IT'S A DEMOCRACY AND A DEMOCRACY
HAS TO BE FOUNDED ON COMPROMISE.
IT CAN'T EXIST WITHOUT THE
NOTION OF COMPROMISE.
YET, IT'S BECOME AN ANA THOOEP
THEME MA IN OUR SOCIETY.
YOU'RE FINDING HUMOR IN THE IDEA
THAT BOY, CAN WE EVEN CONSIDER
OURSELVES UNITED ANYMORE.
>> RIGHT.
I MEAN, HUMOR IS SUPPOSED TO SAY
WHAT YOU THINK IS OBVIOUS TO
EVERYBODY AND THEY GO OH, YEAH,
OF COURSE THAT'S TRUE.
MOST GOOD JOKES, YOU'RE LIKE, OF
COURSE, I KNOW THAT.
>> WE MIGHT BE THINKING THAT.
>> IT'S IN YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS.
YOU GO YEAH, OF COURSE.
>> "RED STATE BLUE STATE" AND IN
THE THEATER, YOU ARE ESSENTIALLY
TARGETED FOR YOUR HUMOR BOTH
SIDES OF THE AISLE.
>> BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE.
>> WHAT SORT OF REACTION ARE YOU
GETTING FROM AUDIENCES?
>> SO FAR IT'S GREAT AND
LAUGHING EVERYWHERE I WANT THEM
TO LAUGH.
I THINK PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT I
COULDN'T -- I COULD NEVER
CONSIDER MYSELF IDEOLOGICALLY
ALIGNED WITH ANY PARTY JUST
BECAUSE I CAN'T IMAGINE
ANYBODY'S NOT FILLED WITH THEIR
HYPOCRISY AND THEIR PART IN
WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.
MOST PEOPLE DO FEEL, MOST PEOPLE
I KNOW BELIEVE THAT IT'S THE
RIGHT IS DESTROYING THE COUNTRY
OR THE PEOPLE THAT I KNOW
CONSERVATIVE BELIEVE THE LEFT IS
DESTROYING THE COUNTRY.
THEY BOTH BELIEVE THAT WITH ALL
THEIR HEARTS AND SOULS.
>> HOW DO YOU THINK, THIS IS A
LITTLE BIT PHILOSOPHICAL BUT IN
OF HUMOR IT, HOW DO YOU THINK
HUMOR LIKE YOURS CAN GET PEOPLE
TO COME TO GRIPS WITH THE NOTION
I MIGHT DISAGREE WITH SOMEONE,
THAT DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN I
HAVE TO DESTROY THEM.
OR THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE AN EVIL
PERSON IF WE DON'T AGREE.
>> I DON'T THINK IT CAN.
>> DO YOU THINK WE'RE THAT FAR
ALONG A TERRIBLE ROAD?
>> I BELIEVE SOCIAL MEDIA TOOK
IT TO A NEW TRIBAL EF LEVEL AND
VIGILANTE.
SOCIAL MEDIA SOMEHOW ENHANCE
THOSE I THINK SFINGS IN US.
I BELIEVE WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A
CIVIL WAR.
HOPEFULLY SOMETHINGING WILL
HAPPEN BEFORE THEN WHERE WE GET
PERSPECTIVE.
NOBODY WANTS TO SEE A CIVIL WAR.
>> I WANT TO MENTION THE PEOPLE.
THIS IS A VERY FUNNY SHOW.
YOU AND I ARE HAVING WHAT SOUNDS
LIKE A VERY SERIOUS DISCUSSION
AND DEEP AND PHILOSOPHICAL R.
BUT IT'S A VERY, VERY FUNNY
SHOW.
>> THANKS.
IT'S FUNNY.
I MAKE SURE I GET LAUGHS ALL THE
WAY THROUGH OR I WOULD FEEL
UNCOMFORT CREDIBLE.
>> WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE
WILLING TO LAUGH IN SOME KAY
WAYS AT THEMSELVES.
>> THE HUMAN CONDITION.
I'M HAPPY WHEN SOMEBODY I DON'T
LIKE GETS TAKEN DOWN JUST LIKE
ANYBODY ELSE.
IT'S A HUMAN CONDITION.
I DON'T WANT TO BE LIKE THAT.
I WANT TO BE LIKE PEOPLE ARE
HAPPY WHEN OTHER PEOPLE GET
TAKEN DOWN, PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF.
EVERYBODY IS, YOU KNOW.
>> IS THE AUDIENCE IN NEW YORK,
DO THEY REACT DIFFERENTLY FROM
THE AUDIENCE IN OTHER PARTS OF
THE COUNTRY?
>> SURE.
THIS SHOW'S JUST BEEN IN NEW
YORK FOR THE MOST PART BUT I'VE
DONE VARIATIONS AND IN OTHER
PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, THEY'RE
VERY -- THEY'RE LIKE NEW YORK
ONLY FROM THEIR SIDE WHERE
THEY'RE LIKE, OKAY, WHERE'S THIS
GO.
LIKE WHEN PEOPLE SENSE YOU'RE
DISRESPECTING THEM IN NEW YORK
OR IN MISSOURI OR WHEREVER, THEY
STILL HAVE THE SAME, THEY'RE
STILL HUMAN BEINGS.
OKAY, WHAT'S GOING ON HERE.
>> YOU'VE GOT ONE PART OF THE
SHOW I THOUGHT WAS FASCINATING
WHERE YOU TALK ABOUT I'VE GOT A
SOLUTION HERE.
CITY STATES.
>> YEAH.
>> ANCIENT GREEK CITY STATES.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?
>> I MEAN CITY STATES BEING LIKE
SPARTA AND ATHENS.
THEY WERE BOTH GREECE BUT THEY
HAD NOTHING IN COMMON.
SPARTA WAS JOCKS AND ATHENS WAS
AN NERDS.
THEY WOULD ONLY GET TOGETHER
WHEN PERSIA INVADED.
OTHERWISE.
>> DO YOU THINK THAT'S WHAT WE
SHOULD BE?
>> YEAH.
>> DELINEATED HOW, BY GEOGRAPHY.
>> UNITED CITY STATES OF
AMERICA.
WELL DELINEATED BY MAYBE CITIES,
SUBURBS AND RURAL.
IT SEEMS MORE LIKE THAT'S THE
WAY IT IS.
IT'S NOT REALLY RED STATES BLUE
STATES.
CITIES, SUBURBAN RURAL HAVE
DIFFERENT MENTALITIES.
LIKE I SAY IN THE SHOW, IN A
REAL DEMOCRACY YOU SHOULD BE
ABLE TO LIVE IN A DICTATORSHIP
IF YOU WANT TO.
SOME PEOPLE WANT TO BE TOLD WHAT
TO DO AND MOVE FORWARD.
THERE'S DIFFERENT TYPES OF
PERSONALITIES OUT THERE.
>> WE MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING
OF THE CONVERSATION HOW MUCH OF
HUMOR IS DERIVED FROM CONFLICT.
>> YEAH.
>> YET YOU WERE SAYING TO ME
JUST BEFORE WE WENT ON, I SAID
THERE'S A WEALTH OF MATERIAL OUT
THERE FOR COMICS NOW WITH ALL
THE CONFLICT GOING ON.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
>> YOU WERE SAYING YET WITH ALL
THAT OUT THERE, THERE'S BEEN A
CONTRACTION, SORT OF LIMITING
WHAT YOU ALL CAN BE TALKING
ABOUT.
>> OF COURSE.
NOW EVERYBODY'S KIND OF,
EVERYBODY'S ON HIGH ALERT ABOUT
EVERYTHING.
ESPECIALLY SINCE EVERYONE'S GOT
A TRAIL OF WHAT THEY'VE SAID
OVER THE YEARS.
NOW IT WAS LIKE DO I WANT THIS
TO GO OUT.
YOU'RE NOT JUST SPEAKING LIKE IN
THE OLD DAYS YOU WOULD SPEAK AT
A COMEDY CLUB AND YOU WOULD BE
THERE IN THAT MOMENT.
NOW HALF THOSE PEOPLE ARE THE
MEDIA.
THEY'RE THEIR OWN MEDIA.
EVERYBODY'S GOT A PHONE THAT CAN
RECORD TAPE YOU AND RECORD YOU.
SO IT'S LIKE YOU'RE PERFORMING
EVERY NIGHT TORE 100TV STATIONS.
YOU KNOW?
>> ARE YOU THINKING THAT
SOMETIMES?
ON STAGE?
>> YEAH, OF COURSE.
>> IS THERE A GOVERNOR IN YOUR
MIND SAYING SHOULD I BE SAYING
THIS RIGHT NOW?
>> OF COURSE.
I DON'T THINK IT'S ONLY HUMAN
NATURE TO GO ALL RIGHT, HERE IT
GOES.
THEN YOU STILL -- COMEDIANS WANT
TO GET THE LAUGHS.
WE SAID WHATEVER WE'RE GOING TO
SAY EVENTUALLY EVEN THOUGH WE
KNOW THIS IS A MISTAKE.
YOU WANT THAT LAUGH.
>> IT'S GOING TO GET ME A LAUGH.
YOU'RE ON STAGE FOR 80 MINUTES.
>> YEAH.
>> THERE'S NO PROMPTER UP THERE.
YOU DON'T HAVE NOTES IN YOUR
HAND.
>> RIGHT.
>> YOU'RE DONE I MENTIONED
"SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE."
YOU'RE WORKING OFF A SCRIPT YOU
HELPED TO WRITE.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT FOR YOU IN
TERMS OF BEING A PERFORMER?
>> WORKING FOR 80 MINUTES BY
YOURSELF YOU MEAN?
>> YEAH.
>> I'M USED TO IT.
FOR STANDUPS IT'S LESS DIFFICULT
THAN ANYBODY ELSE.
WE'RE ALWAYS -- YOU'RE ALWAYS BY
YOURSELF ON STAGE.
WITH A CROWD FOR AT LEAST AN
HOUR.
THAT'S OUR LIFE.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
THAT'S A STANDUP LIFE.
>> I'VE ALWAYS BELIEVED ONE OF
THE VALUES, GREAT VALUES OF AN
COMEDY IS IT KIND OF HOLDS A
MIRROR UP TO US TO SOCIETY.
GIVE US A CHANCE TO LOOK AT
OURSELVES AND MAYBE BETTER
UNDERSTAND OURSELVES.
WHAT YOU'RE DOING NOW, "RED
STATE BLUE STATE" IS A MARVELOUS
CONSTITUENT FOR ALL OF US TO
HOLD A MIRROR UP WHILE WE'RE
LAUGHING.
>> INCLUDING MYSELF.
>> WHILE WE'RE LAUGHING BUT TO
HOLD THE MIRROR UP.
THAT'S PRETTY GOOD AND PRETTY
VALUABLE.
COLIN, ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU.
THANK YOU SO MUCH AND GOOD LUCK
WITH THE SHOW.
>> THANK YOU.
>>> CULT CLASSIC FLICKMAKER AND
KING OF CAMP JOHN WATERS SITS
DOWN WITH MARYLAND PUBLIC
TELEVISION'S RHEA FEIKIN FOR A
CONVERSATION ON FILM, ART AND
POP CULTURE AND HOW WATERS
SUBVERSIVE HUMOR WAS ABLE TO
ENBODY THE COMPLEX MORAL CODES
OF THE TIME.
>> IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE THERE
WOULD IT BE SOMEBODY IN THIS
COUNTRY OR MAYBE THE REST OF THE
WORLD WHO DOESN'T KNOW YOU, BUT
SHOULD THAT WILL PERSON APPEAR,
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ART
TO THAT PERSON?
>> WELL, MY ART, I WOULD NEVER
SAY ART.
I DON'T TALK ABOUT MYSELF.
I MEET YOUNG PEOPLE AND SAY WHAT
DO YOU DO, AND THEY SAY I'M AN
ARTIST.
I'LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT.
NO THE HISTORY BOOKS WILL BE THE
JUDGE OF THAT.
DON'T CALL YOURSELF AN ARTIST.
THAT IS FOR OTHERS TO CALL YOU.
I WOULD SAY MY PHOTOGRAPHS
CELEBRATE EVERYTHING THAT CAN GO
WRONG IN SHOW BUSINESS AND THE
ART WORLD.
TWO INSIDER PLACES I MAKE FUN OF
THAT I LOVE.
I LIKE ALL THE ELITISM OF THE
ART WORLD.
IT'S HILARIOUS.
IT'S A SECRET LANGUAGE, YOU
DRESS A SECRET WAY.
ONCE YOU JOIN IT, IT'S A
MIRACLE.
YOU CAN SEE THE EMPEROR'S NEWS
CLOTHES.
IF YOU CAN WALK DOWN THE STREET
NAKED AND EVERYBODY ELSE THINKS
YOU'RE DRESSED, THAT IS ART.
>> JOHN IS AN AMAZING
MULTITALENTED INDIVIDUAL.
I THINK THE WORLD REALLY KNOWS
QUITE WELL HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO
CINEMA AND YOU KNOW HIS BOOKS
AND EVEN HIS WORK AS A
PERFORMER.
BUT PERHAPS THE LESS KNOWN
ASPECT OF HIS WORK IS HIS VISUAL
ARTS PRACTICE.
WE'VE BROUGHT TOGETHER OVER 160
WORKS FROM EUROPE AND THE UNITED
STATES FOR THIS EXHIBITION.
HIS WORKS RANGE IN TIOOM 1992 T.
THROUGHOUT THE EXHIBITION, I
THINK PEOPLE WILL FIND WORK THAT
THEY FIND SHOCKING OR IN BAD
TASTE.
OBVIOUSLY, THIS IS A STRATEGY
THAT JOHN HAS EMPLOYED FOR
YEARS.
JOHN, IKE AND TINA TURN TER I
KNOW YOU LOVE THEM.
>> I DID.
THIS MAY BE MY FAVORITE PIECE IN
THE SHOW.
I DON'T KNOW I KNOW THAT TINA
SHE SHOULD HATE IKE.
SHE COULD HAVE KILLED HIM AND A
JURY WOULD LET HER OFF HE
TREATED HER SO BADLY BUT THEY
WERE SO GOOD TOGETHER AND SUCH A
HUGE INFLUENCE ON MYSELF AND
DIVINE.
THIS IS WHAT SHE WAS LIKE THEN.
A RATTY MINK COAT, A PROCESSED
WIG, A MUSTACHE
SPRIINGOLATORS, SHE WAS SO GOOD.
>> TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT
HOW THE WHAT YOUR PROCESS IS.
>> THERE'S ONE I HAVE CALLED SHE
SHOULD HAVE SAID NO.
BASICALLY IT'S THE NAME OF A
MOVIE I LOVED GROWING UP BECAUSE
THE NUNS USED TO SAY WE WOULD GO
TO HELLFUL WE SAW IT.
I LIKED HEARING THEM SAY SHE
SHOULD HAVE SAID NO.
THE PICTURES IN IN SERIES NONE
ARE FROM A MOVIE BUT WOMEN THAT
SHOULD HAVE SAID NO TO DRUGS IS,
BAD AIRPLANES, BAD HUSBANDS.
I'M TELLING A STORY COMPLETELY
THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT
ORIGINAL MOVIE.
SO I THINK IT UP AHEAD OF TIME
AND THEN I HAVE TO FIND THE
IMAGES READING IT LEFT TO RIGHT
JUST LIKE A STORY BOARD IN A
MOVIE.LLID RE-ENACTMENT
OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION IN
1966 WHICH WAS THREE YEARS AFTER
IT REALLY HAPPENED.
WHICH IT DID GNT G OVER SO WELL.
LATER I REPHOTOGRAPHED THAT OFF
A BAD TV SCREEN AND BLEW IT UP.
TO ME IT LOOKED SCARILY LIKE THE
REAL ZAPRUDER FILM THAT BECAME
SO FAMOUS.
OF COURSE, TOO BIG FOR ONE WALL.
IT'S AN EPIC.
>> WHY DIVINE?
>> WELL, DIE VIN WAS MY LEADING
LADY.
WARHOL DID JACKIE.
DID I VINE WAS TO BE JACKIE SO
MUCH SHE'S DAYDREAMING AND IT
TURNS INTO THE KENNEDY
ASSASSINATION.
IN REAL LIFE SHE WANTED TO BE
ELIZABETH TAYLOR.
I'M THE ONE THAT WANTED TO BE
JACKIE KENNEDY.
WE PUT IT TOGETHER AND IT
WEIRDLY TURNED OUT TO BE
FRIGHTENING AND TOUCHING BECAUSE
IT ENDED UP LOOKING LIKE THE
REAL ZA PUD DRER FILM.
>> THEY PERN OR TOPIC IN THAT'S
TABOO.
>> YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL WITH
RACE JOKES.
ANY KIND OF THING IF YOU'RE NOT
THAT PERSON OR MINORITY, YOU
HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL TO TELL
IT.
I DO USE IT.
IT'S A GRAY LINE.
ALL HUMOR IS A THIN LINE OF HOW
FAR YOU CAN GO AND MAKE PEOPLE
LAUGH AND WHETHER YOU CAN GET
AWAY WITH.
IT'S ALWAYS I'VE BEEN INTERESTED
IN AND THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND
IS ALWAYS A SUBJECT MATTER THAT
I'M DRAWN TO.
>> THE GREAT AMERICAN SONG BOOK
WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY INCOMPLETE
WITHOUT THE VENERABLE OSCAR
HAMMERSTEIN, LYRICIST AND
PLAYWRIGHT COLLABORATED WITH
JEROME KERN ON THE HIT "SHOW
BOAT," AND BEST KNOWN FOR HIS
COLLABORATIONS WITH RICHARD
ROGERS.
TOGETHER THEY CREATED AMERICAN
CLASSICS INCLUDING "OKLAHOMA,"
CAROUSEL, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE
K
"KING AND I" AND THE SOUND OF
MUSIC.
HIS WORK DIDN'T CATCH AT
ATTENTION OF THEATER AND MUSIC
LOVERS AROUND THE WORLD.
HIS POLITICAL ACTIVISM, THIS
MIGHT SURPRISE YOU ALSO CAUGHT
THE EYE OF THEN FBI HEAD J.
EDGAR HOEVER WHO GENERATED A
MASSIVE TOP SECRET FILE ON OSCAR
HAMMERSTEIN.
NOW HIS GRANDSON OSCAR
HAMMERSTEIN III IS REVEALING
EVERYTHING ABOUT HIS ACTIVISM IN
A NEW SHOW CALLED "OSCAR ON
OSCAR."
HERE ON INSIGHT IS, OSCAR
HAMMERSTEIN II "I."
WE'RE SO DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU
HERE.
>> APPLY PLEASURE.
>> I'M GOING DOWN THE LIST AND
SAYING YOU COULD MAKE AN
ARGUMENT FOR EVERY ONE OF THOSE
AS BEING THE GREATEST OF ALL
BROADWAY MUSICALS.
>> IT DEPENDS ON WHAT DAY OF THE
WEEK.
I LOVE "CAROUSEL" ON MONDAY.
I LOVE "SOUTH PACIFIC" TUESDAY
AND WEDNESDAY.
IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOUR STATE OF
MIND, WHAT YOU'RE THINKING
ABOUT.
>> I MIGHT VOTE FOR "SOUTH
PACIFIC," EVERY SONG.
>> IT SCORES A LOT OF VOTES.
THE WHY IS IT THAT YOU HAVE
DEVOTED SO MUCH OF YOUR LIFE TO
TELLING YOUR GRANDFATHER'S, HIS
STORY, HIS MULTIDIMENSIONAL
STORY?
>> WELL, WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF
YOU CAME INTO A ROOM AND
EVERYBODY ALREADY-GREAT GOOD
WISHES FOR YOU?
AND GOOD VIBES AND FEELINGS FOR
YOU?
I'M ONE OF THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE
IN THE WORLD IN THAT THE GOOD
WILL PRECEDES ME WHEREVER I GO.
IF I TALK ABOUT ROGERS AND
HAMMERSTEIN OR MY FAMILY'S
HISTORY, I AM ALWAYS WELCOMED
WHEREVER I GO WHETHER IT'S
NATIONALLY, INTERNATIONALLY,
IT'S BEEN A NATURAL CALLING, GO
WHERE YOU WANED.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
LET ME TALK TO YOU A LITTLE BIT
ABOUT NOT HIS MUSIC BECAUSE WE
KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT HIS MUSIC AND
HIS MUSICAL GENIUS.
I'VE OFTEN SAID, PEOPLE TOSS THE
WORD YEEN GENIUS AROUND FAR TORE
CAVALIERLY.
TRUE GENIUS, WHO CAN CREATE
MUSIC IN THEIR MINDS.
THAT TO ME IS -- WE KNOW WHAT A
GENUS HE WAS.
I DON'T THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE
KNOW HOW ACTIVE HE WAS IN SOCIAL
CAUSES.
TALK ABOUT THAT.
>> OKAY.
WELL, HE WAS QUOTED AS SAYING
THAT A WRITER GIVES HIMSELF AWAY
WHO HE REALLY IS.
THROUGH THE SONGS THAT HE
WRITES.
AND OSCAR GAVE HIMSELF AWAY IN
THE LOTS OF SONGS THAT HE WROTE
WHETHER IT WAS OH MAN RIVER OR
THE ALL BLACK OPERA "CARMAN
JONES" OR FROM "SOUTH PACIFIC"'S
YOU'VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY
TAUGHT.
HE BETRAYED A CERTAIN LOVE FOR
HIS FELLOW MAN, A CERTAIN KIND
OF TOLERANCE AND KINDNESS THAT
IT SEES THROUGH ALL OF HIS
SHOWS.
EVEN THE FARMER IN THE COMMON
HAD TO BE FRIENDS.
AND THAT'S I THINK PART OF WHAT
HAS DRAWN ME TO DO THIS SHOW.
BECAUSE I FEEL AS IF THEY DON'T
KNOW THE MAN EXCEPT THROUGH HIS
MUSIC, AND I'M TRYING TO
INTRODUCE THE PUBLIC TO ANOTHER
SIDE OF HIM THAT PEOPLE DON'T
OFTEN SEE.
>> YOU WERE TELLING ME AN
INTERESTING STORY ABOUT HIS
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LEGENDARY
PAUL ROBSON.
PAUL ROBSON, IF YOU KNOW NOTHING
MORE ABOUT HIM AND PLUS THERE
ARE IS IS A LOT TO KNOW,
ALL-AMERICAN FOOTBALL PLAYER AT
RUTGERS, MARVELOUSLY TALENTED,
OH MAN RIVER, THEY HAD THIS
WONDERFUL BROTHERLY RELATIONSHIP
BUT SOMETIMES THEY CLASHED AS
BROTHERS DO.
>> LET ME SEE IF I CAN REMEMBER
THE LYRIC.
I'LL KEEP ON TRYING UNTIL I'M
DYING.
I'M TIRED OF LIVING, I'M SCARED
OF DYING WAS THE ORIGINAL.
HE WOULD CHANGE IT TO GO I WON'T
STOP FIGHTING UNTIL I'M DYING.
>> WHEN HE WAS TRAVELING AROUND.
>> CORRECT.
HE WAS A CHAMPION OF MANY
CAUSES, COMMITTEES TO ENDS
LYNCHING, COMPLETES FOR THE
UNITED NEGRO CONGRESS, SOUTHERN
CHILDREN'S CONGRESS, TOO MANY TO
BE MENTIONED TO BE HONEST WITH
YOU.
THE MAN WAS AN ACTIVE FELLOW.
IT HAS TO BE SAID THAT WHAT HE'S
KNOWN MOST FOR ON THE STAGE IS
OH MAN RIVER.
AND I WOULD ADD ABOUT OH MAN
RIVER THAT I THINK OH MAN RIVER
IS ALWAYS A PERFECT SONG.
I'LL DEFINE IT BY SAYING IT'S
ONE OF THOSE SONGS WHERE YOU
ALMOST FORGET IT WAS WRITTEN BY
SOMEBODY.
IT SEEMS AS IF TO SPRING
NATURALLY FROM THE SOUL OF THE
CHARACTER.
IT'S ONE OF THOSE CASES WHERE
OSCAR GETS OUT OF THE WAY OF THE
WORDS HE WAS WRITING.
AND I ALWAYS POINT TO THAT SONG
AS SOMETHING THAT IS A
REMARKABLEBLY SIMPLE PERFECT
SONG.
>> I MENTIONED IN THE
INTRODUCTION ABOUT J. ED CAR
HOEVER.
WE'VE LEARNED SINCE OBVIOUSLY
THE FBI A MARVELOUS
ORGANIZATION, GREAT HARD WORKING
AGENT BUZZ WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT
THE EXCESSES OF J. EDGAR HOEVER
AND LEARNED THE LESSON OF POWER,
ABSOLUTE POWER ESPECIALLY
ABSOLUTELY POWER SK CORRUPT
ABSOLUTELY.
OFTENTIMES PEOPLE HAVE SAID THAT
ABOUT HOEVER.
WERE YOU SURPRISED TO LEARN THE
EXTENT OF THE FILE THAT HE HAD
PUT TOGETHER ABOUT YOUR
GRANDFATHER?
>> IT RUNS 99 PAGES.
AND WHAT IT REALLY SEEMS TO BE
IS A RECORD OF THEM TAILING
OSCAR WHEREVER HE WENT.
FROM ABOUT 1941 UNTIL IT PETERS
OUT IN THE MID '50S.
AND IN THIS RECORD, THEY DECIDE
THAT HE'S A QUESTIONABLE
CHARACTER AND THEY BACK DATE IT,
THEY GO ALL THE WAY BACK TO
"SHOW BOAT" AND TO AN
ORGANIZATION THAT HE COFOUNDED
OUT IN HOLLYWOOD CALLED THE
ANTI-NAZI LEAGUE.
SO.
>> WHICH YOU WOULD THINK THAT'S
A WONDERFUL ORGANIZATION.
>> NOT GOING TO BE A PROBLEM.
>> AS WE KNOW YOU GO BACK IN THE
'30s, THERE WERE PRO NAZI
RALLIES HERE IN MADISON SQUARE
GARD.
>> THAT'S ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.
OSCAR FELT IT WAS INCUMBENT UPON
HIMSELF TO TELL OTHER WRITERS TO
ORGANIZE OTHER WRITERS YOU MIGHT
SAY TO PROP PAGAN SKIES AGAINST
NAZIISM.
ON ONE SIDE THERE'S THE NAZIS
AND ON THE OTHER SIDE THERE'S
COMMUNISTS.
YOU HAVE TO THREAD A FINE LINE.
YOU'RE REVILED BY ONE GROUP AND
EMBRACED BY THE OTHER.
J. EDGAR HOEVER IS WATCHING
EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE.
THAT WAS THE LIFE HE LIVED.
HE DID NOT BEHAVE IN ANY COVERT
WAY.
THE PATRIOTIC PARANOIA OF THE
'40s AND '50S THAT FOLLOWED
STALIN AND THE MAOISTS NUCLEAR
TESTS AND STUFF LIKING THAT
CAUSED THE PARANOIA TO OCCUR.
OSCAR WAS VERY VOCAL, VERY
PUBLIC, VERY HONEST.
WAS WILLING TO ARGUE IT AND
BELIEVED I THINK IF I CAN GO ON
THIS RUN-ON IS THAT HE BELIEVED
THAT WHAT A MAN -- WHATEVER
HAPPENS BETWEEN A MAN'S EARS WAS
HIS OWN BUSINESS.
AS A WRITER, HE WAS NOT SO MUCH
A LIBERAL OR A COMMUNIST OR A
CAPITALIST AS HE WAS A FREE
THINKER.
HE BELIEVES THAT WAS YOUR RIGHT.
YOU COULD HAVE CAPITALIST
THOUGHTS.
COULD YOU HAVE COMMUNIST
THOUGHTS.
YOU COULD HAVE SOCIALIST
THOUGHTS, ANY YOU WANTED, YOU
WERE FREE TO HAVE YOUR THOUGHTS.
HE SAID THIS IN THE AUTHOR'S
LEAGUE AND DRAMAISTS LEAGUE.
HE CHAMPIONED THE RIGHT TO BE
FLEE OF AUTHORITARIANISM AND
TOTALINARIANISM.
>> AND THE FEAR OF THE THOUGHT
POLICE.
LET ME TALK ABOUT THE SHOW THAT
YOU'RE DOING.
HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?
WHAT DO YOU WANT FOLKS TO WALK
FROM WITH IT.
>> WELL, I'VE BEEN GOING AROUND
THE COUNTRY FOR INDICATES NOW
DOING SHOWS BECAUSE PEOPLE LOVE
ME IN ADVANCE.
WHICH BASICALLY STARTS WITH IT
STARTS WITH OH, WHAT I AN
BEAUTIFUL MORNING" AND ENDS UP
WITH "CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN."
I'VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR A LONG
TIME, A WARM BATH OF NOSTALGIA.
I WANTED SOMETHING A LITTLE
EDGIER, A LITTLE NEW YORK,
SOMETHING THAT WOULD SHOW A
LITTLE EDGE TO OSCAR.
I ALSO FELT AT THIS TIME THAT
THIS MIGHT BE A VERY GOOD TIME
TO BRING OSCAR OUT AS
UNAPOLOGETIC LIBERAL AND A
PERSON WHO IS AGAINST FASCIST
IMPULSES THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE
IN OUR COUNTRY TODAY.
I'M PUTTING HIM ON THE CORRECT
SIDE OF HISTORY IN MY MIND AND
SAYING YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE GOING
TO ENLIST HIM, THIS IS WHAT
YOU'RE ENLISTING HIM FOR.
>> HERE'S HIS MUSIC BUT HERE'S
THE MAN.
>> HERE'S THE MAN.
>> HERE'S WHAT HE REPRESENTED,
HERE'S WHAT HE DID WITH HIS
LIFE.
>> YES.
>> YOU'RE ABLE TO WEAVE SOME OF
THE MUSIC INTO THOSE STORIES
WHICH HOW COULD YOU NOT.
>> HOW COULD YOU NOT, FROM "KING
AND I" THERE'S IT'S A PUZZLEM AS
AN ABSOLUTE RULER BEGINS TO
QUESTION HIMSELF, SHALL I TELL
YOU WHAT I THINK OF YOU WHICH IS
BASICALLY SPEAKING TRUTH TO
POWER.
YOU'VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY
TAUGHT WHICH IS ABOUT PREJUDICE.
THE FARMER AND THE COW MAN
SHOULD BE FRIENDS, ABOUT
OVERCOMING DIFFERENCES HAD IN
ORDER TO UNITE AND FIGHT ABROAD.
THAT SHOW OPENED IN '43.
>> HOW IT STILL RESONATES TODAY.
>> YES.
>> AGAIN THE GENIUS OF OSCAR
HAMMERSTEIN WRITING BACK THEN
AND NOW WE'RE LOOKING AT HIS
MUSIC AND LOOKING AT HIS
THOUGHTS AND SAYING THEY'RE
IMPORTANT TO US EVEN TODAY.
>> AND ALSO HIS CHAMPIONING OF
BLACK CAUSES OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN
CAUSES WAS RATHER NOTABLE.
ONE OF THE ONES THAT I WANT TO
LEAVE YOU WITH IS THAT HE
CHAMPIONED THE COMMITTEE FOR
EQUAL JUSTICE FOR RESSIE TAYLOR
IN 1944 AND 1945.
HE WANTED TO SEE HER GET A FAIR
SHAKE.
SHE NEVER DID, BUT THAT WAS A
SORT OF WATERSHED MOMENT IN THE
CIVIL RIGHTS ERA AS ROSA PARKS
TOOK RESSIE TAYLOR'S TESTIMONY
AND STARTED A CONVERSATION THAT
WOULDN'T END TILL THE MID-'60s.
OSCAR IS DEALING WITH MISS IG
NATION IN SHOW BOAT OR HAVING
WRITTEN AN ALL BLACK OPERA IN
"CARMAN JONES."
HE SEEMED TO FEEL IT WAS
BEHOLDEN TO HIM TO DO THIS JOB.
>> HE DID IT MARVELOUSLY WITH
ASTONISHING MUSIC.
>> I'M PROUD.
>> AND GREAT THOUGHTS.
YOU SHOULD BE PROUD.
IT'S A PLEASURE TO MEET YOU.
>> MY PLEASURE.
>> THANK YOU FOR SPENDING TIME
WITH US.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.
>> GOOD SEEING YOU AND A
REMINDER FOR MORE INFORMATION ON
OSCAR ON OSCAR, VISIT OUR
WEBSITE @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.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019