METROFOCUS: AUGUST 21, 2019

New Orleans Times-Picayune laid off its entire staff, a recent casualty of the struggling print industry in a digital age. Could one of New York’s local papers be next? We’ll tell the story of how one young immigrant from Haiti found a sense of self and pride after entering the U.S. Armed Forces. The New York Public Library is honoring “The Bard of Brooklyn.” We have your preview of the exhibition.  Broadway’s “Come From Away” soars past its second anniversary. The Tony Award-winning husband and wife team behind the curtain take us behind-the-scenes.

Aired on June 20 & August 21, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' THE DEATH OF LOCAL NEWS.

THE VENABLE NEW ORLEANS TIMES PICAYUNE LAYS OFF ITS ENTIRE STAFF, THE LATEST CASUALTY IN THE STRUGGLING PRINT INDUSTRY IN THE DIGITAL AGE.

COULD ONE OF NEW YORK'S LOCAL PAPERS BE NEXT?

> FROM THE REAL DANGERS OF HAITI TO A LIFE OF ABUSES IN NEW YORK CITY, IN A MOMENT, HOW ONE YOUNG WOMAN FOUND A SENSE OF SELF-AND PRIDE AFTER ENTERING THE SERVICE.

> WALT WHITMAN WROTE SOME OF AMERICA'S MOST IMPORTANT AND BEST LOVED POETRY.

NOW THE BARRED OF BROOKLYN IS BEING FETED BY THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY.

WE HAVE A PREVIEW OF THIS INCREDIBLE EXHIBITION AND BROADWAY'S 'COME FROM AWAY' IS SOARS INTO ITS SECOND ANNIVERSARY.

THE HUSBAND AND WIFE TEAM BEHIND THE BRILLIANCE TAKES US BEHIND THE SCENES OF A SHOW THAT HOLDS SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE FOR NEW YORK CITY.

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

♪ THIS IS 234S WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

FRZ

'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.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

IT'S THE END OF AN ERA FOR A LOCAL NEWSPAPER.

THE NEW ORLEANS TIMES PICAYUNE WAS SOLD TO A COMPETITOR AND THE ENTIRE STAFF, 161 PEOPLE INCLUDING 65 REPORTERS AND EDITORS FOUND OUT THAT THEY WILL SOON BE LOSING THEIR JOBS.

IS THE PAPER'S NEW OWNERS ANNOUNCED PLANS TO MERGE THE TIMES PICAYUNE WITH ITS RIVAL THE NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATE AND SAID SOME OF THE STAFF WILL BE REHIRED THOUGH TO DATE IT IS UNCLEAR HOW MANY.

IS THE NEWS OF THE SALE CAME AFTER YEARS OF DECLINING CIRCULATION FOR THE PAPER.

AND IT SENT SHOCK WAVES THROUGHOUT THE LOCAL NEWS INDUSTRY, AT LEAST A NUMBER OF PUBLICATIONS IN OUR REGION INCLUDING THE STATEN ISLAND, ADVANCE, JERSEY JOURNAL AND NEWARK STAR LEDGER ALL OWNED BY THE SAME COMPANY.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THE DEMISE AND TO GIVE US THOUGHTS ON THE PLIGHT OF LOCAL NEWSPAPERS AND THE DIGITAL AGE IS JOURNALIST BEST SELLING AUTHOR AND NEW ORLEANS NATIVE ELLIS HENICAN.

WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW.

WEARING MY FUNERAL SUIT TODAY.

THAT'S MY FIRST QUESTION.

IT'S SAD.

IT WAS YOUR HOME PAPER FOR MANY YEARS.

YEAH, YEAH.

WHEN YOU HEARD, WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU HEARD AND HEARD ABOUT THE LAYOFFS?

A LOT OF THOSE STAFF MEMBERS YOU KNOW.

WELL, A NUMBER.

FIRST OF ALL, YOU FEEL BAD FOR THE PEOPLE WHEN YOU KNOW THEM, WHEN YOU CARE ABOUT A CITY, WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT WE HAVE LOCAL JOURNALISTS ACROSS THIS IS COUNTRY KEEPING CITY HALL HONEST AND CHASING DOWN COPS AND TELLING PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW TO HELP THEM LIVE BETTER AND MORE INFORMED LIVES.

BUSINESS MODEL THAT SUPPORTED THAT FOR DECADES AND DECADES IS CRUMBLING.

AND IT'S BECOME VERY, VERY DIFFICULT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO CREATE A BUSINESS THAT ALSO PROVIDES HIGH QUALITY LOCAL NEWS COVERAGE AND THIS IS ANOTHER CASUALTY OF ONE AMONG MANY AND PROBABLY NOT THE LAST.

LET'S STICK WITH THE TIMES PICAYUNE SPECIFICALLY.

AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, IT'S CIRCULATION HAD BEEN IN DECLINE FOR YEARS OVER THE LAST 15 YEARS, IT LOST I THINK 3/4 OF ITS CIRCULATION.

IT WENT FROM PUBLISHING SEVEN DAYS A WEEK TO THREE DAYS A WEEK FOR A PERIOD OF TIME AND THEN WENT BACK TO SEVEN DAYS.

THAT DIDN'T WORK TOO WELL.

THE STAFF WAS ALREADY DES PLATED BY THE TIME THE SALE CAME THROUGH.

DRASTICALLY DECIMATED.

THE NEW OWNERS SAY THE NEW AMERICANED PAPER THEY INTEND TO INCREASE LOCAL COVERAGE, SUBURBAN COVERAGE.

ADD TO THE EDITORIAL PAGES.

DOES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO YOU?

PLAY WE BE SO LUCKY.

YOU DON'T BELIEVE IT.

BE CAREFUL WITH THE WORD LIKE MERGER.

IT SOUNDS KIND OF GENTLE.

WE'RE GOING TO MERGE.

IT'S GOING TO BE GREAT.

IN THE LONG RUN, THERE ARE GOING TO BE FAR FEWER EDITORS AND REPORTERS COVERING LIFE IN THE NEW ORLEANS REGION THAN THERE HAVE BEEN.

THAT'S A BAD THING.

IT'S BAD OBVIOUSLY FOR THE PEOPLE WHO DO THAT KIND OF NOBLE WORK.

BUT IT'S BAD FOR THE REST OF US.

AND IT'S HARD TO BLAME THE CORPORATE OWNERS.

YOU CAN'T EXPECT THEM I SUPPOSE TO SUPPORT A FAILING BUSINESS FOREVER AND EVER.

THE NEW HOUSE FAMILY WHO DOES HAVE A LOT OF BUSINESS IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD DID TRY TO PUSH DIGITAL FIRST.

THEY INVESTED A LOT ON THE WEBSITE.

THEY DID THE STUFF PEOPLE HAVE FIGURED OUT TO DO, BUT YOU KNOW, IT JUST DIDN'T WORK VERY WELL.

WHY ISN'T THAT WORKING?

SINCE 2004, THERE WAS A STUDY BY NORTH CAROLINA UNIVERSITY, I BELIEVE, THAT SHOWED THAT 20% OF ALL THE PAPERS IN THE COUNTRY HAVE DISAPPEARED.

YEAH.

SINCE 2004.

THAT'S AMAZING.

1800?

WE USED TO IN THE NEWSPAPER BUSINESS WHICH I LOVE AND THE PLACE I GREW UP AS A JOURNALIST, WE USED TO HAVE A BRILLIANT BUSINESS MODEL.

RIGHT?

WE PRINTED ON PAPER.

WE WOULD THROW IT ON YOUR DOORSTEP AND BILL YOU BY THE MONTH.

I MISS THOSE DAYS.

AND WE WERE MAKING 20, 30%, 40% PROFIT MARGINS BIG CITIES, SMALL TOWNS AND TECHNOLOGY CAME.

PEOPLE DON'T READ THAT WAY.

WE LOOK AT STUFF ON OUR PHONES AND OUR COMPUTERS.

WE'RE NOT FOR REASONS THAT ARE STILL A BIT OF A MYSTERY WILLING TO PAY FOR IT IN THE SAME WAY.

PEOPLE PRETTY WELL.

THEY'RE NOT WILLING BECAUSE THEY DON'T ALWAYS HAVE TO PAY FOR IT.

IF THEY ALL HAD TO PAY FOR IT, WOULD THAT TRANSFORM THINGS AROUND?

IT MIGHT.

THAT'S AN EQUATION.

A BUNCH OF STUFF HAPPENED.

YOU KNOW ABOUT ALL OF IT, THE CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING WHICH WAS A HUGELY PROFITABLE BUSINESS WENT TO CRAIGSLIST AND ITS COUSINS.

AND GOOGLE.

RIGHT.

AND RETAIL ADS, YOU KNOW THOSE FULL PAGE ADS THAT TISERS PAID TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR.

THEY'RE DOING THEM ONLINE.

THEY DON'T WORK QUITE AS WELL.

THEY'RE NOT PAYING AS MUCH FOR THEM.

WE'RE IN A SITUATION WHERE WE USED TO HAVE A BUSINESS MODEL THAT SUPPORTED A LOT OF GREAT JOURNALISTS IN THIS COUNTRY.

IT HAS GOTTEN REALLY HARD AND IT'S HARDEST IN SMALL OR MEDIUM-SIZED IS MARKETS.

WE'RE A LITTLE INSULATED FROM IT IN SOMEWHERE LIKE NEW YORK BUT IT'S COMING HERE, TOO.

YOU DON'T HAVE A CLUE AS TO WHAT A BUSINESS MODEL THAT MIGHT WORK MIGHT LOOK LIKE?

MAN.

WE COULD BUY THE TIMES.

IF WE CAN FIGURE THAT OUT, LISTEN, CLEARLY THERE HAS NEVER BEEN IN ALL OF OUR LIFETIMES A TIME WHERE WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE WORLD AROUND US.

IT'S NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN IT IS RIGHT NOW.

I DON'T JUST MEAN DONALD TRUMP.

I MEAN THE STUFF HAPPENING IN OUR SUBURBS AND CITIES.

YOU'VE GOT TO KNOW THAT STUFF IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE A SMART ENGAGED PERSON.

BUT THE BUSINESS MODELS HAVE PROVEN TO BE VERY, VERY DIFFICULT.

AND YOU KNOW, THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE TRYING SMART STUFF.

AND HERE'S HOPING SOME OF THEM MAKE TONS OF MONEY AND WE'VE BOTH GOT A LOT OF FRIENDSES THAT NEED TO WORK AND BOTH NEED A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE CITIES WE LIVE IN.

THE NEW HOUSE COMPANY, ADVANCE PUBLICATIONS THAT OWNED THE TIMES PICAYUNE AND OWN THEED THE PAPER IN THE STATEN ISLAND AND NEW JERSEY, SAID THAT WAS A ONE OFF.

THEY HAD NO INTENTION OF SELLING ANY MORE OF THEIR PUBLICATIONS.

IF YOU WERE WORKING IN ONE OF THOSE TODAY, WOULD YOU BE WORRIED?

ANYONE WORKING IN PRINT JOURNALISM SPENDS EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES WORRIED.

I THINK WE ALL FEEL TO SOME EXTENT WE'RE ON BORROWED TIME.

PLEASE, PARTICULARLY YOU YOUNGER PEOPLE, THINK OF SMART MODELS THAT WILL HELP US MAKE SOME MONEY.

WE NEED IT.

PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THAT STUFF.

YOU DO A TELEVISION PROGRAM, RIGHT?

THAT IS GREERED TO THE CONCERNS OF THIS REGION, RIGHT?

YOU KNOW THE SPECIAL CHALLENGES OF THAT.

IT'S EASIER TO TALK ABOUT TRUMP AND EVERYBODY AROUND THE COUNTRY.

THESE ARE ISSUES THAT AFFECT PEOPLE WHERE THEY LIVE.

AND MAN, WE'VE GOT TO FIND AN ANSWER TO IT.

I DON'T THINK NEW HOUSE FIGURED IT OUT.

I'M AFRAID THAT NOBODY'S QUITE FIGURED IT OUT.

YOU'VE KIND OF TOUCHED ON.

I'M BLEAK, I'M SORRY.

I'M NOT THAT BLEAK A GUY.

I KNOW, THAT'S WHY WE BRING YOU IN.

THE TRUTH IS THE TRUTH.

SO WHAT IS -- YOU TOUCH ON THERE, WHAT IS AT STAKING IF THIS CONTINUES WHICH BY ALL INDICATIONS IT WILL?

WELL, WE'RE GOING TO BE DUMBER AND OUR POLITICIANS ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET AWAY WITH STUFF THAT THEY DIDN'T USED TO GET WEIGHT WITH AND OURTACH DOLLARS ARE GOING TO BE SPENT IN WAYS WE DON'T HAVE PEOPLE BIRD DOGGING IT EVERY DAY.

AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO KNOW AS MUCH ABOUT EACH OTHER AND OUR NEIGHBORS AND THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE ACROSS TOWN AND PEOPLE NOT LIKE OURSELVES AND NOBODY WILL BE ROOTING OUT THE CORRUPTION STILL SUCH A PART OF BUSINESS LIFE.

WE'RE ALL POORER FOR THIS.

ON THAT NOTE, ELLIS, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

CHEERIER DAYS AHEAD.

SEE YOU LATER.

THANKS.

> FOR MANY YOUNG PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY, THE MILITARY IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TURN THEIR LIVES AROUND.

OUR FRONTLINE TO THE HOME FRONT SERIES TAKES US ON THE JOURNEY OF A HAITIAN IMMIGRANT WHO FINDS REFUGE IN THE MILITARY AFTER ESCAPING VIOLENCE ABROAD AND IN NEW YORK.

TAKE A LOOK.

A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO LOOK AT VETERANS ON THE STREET THINK WELL, THIS IS SOMEONE WHO IS A BUM OR AN ALCOHOLIC, BUT THE THING IS WE ALL HAVE A STORY.

I LEFT HAITI TO ESCAPE POSSIBLE RAPE AND KIDNAP AND I MOVED TO AMERICA TO NEW YORK WITH MY FATHER.

MY FATHER WAS VERY VERBALLY AND PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE.

THE KIND OF ABUSE THAT WOULD FORCE MEESE TO STAY AT HOME FOR A COUPLE DAYS BECAUSE I COULDN'T GO TO SCHOOL BECAUSE HAD I BRUISES ON MY BODY.

IN THE HAITIAN CULTURE IT'S KIND OF TABOO FOR GIRLS TO LEAVE THEIR PARENTS' HOME BEFORE THEY GET MARRIED.

I GAVE MYSELF THE OPTION TO JOIN THE MILITARY AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE.

I WANTED TO COOK AND SEE THE WORLD.

MY FIRST DUTY WAS IN JAPAN.

WHEN I TRANSFERRED HERE TO VIRGINIA I WAS ASSIGNED WUTG ADMIRAL GARY ROUGHEAD WHO LATER BECAME THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS IN D.C.

I DIDN'T WANT TO GO BACK TO SEA AGAIN SO AFTER 8 1/2 YEARS, I SAID WELL, IT'S TIME FOR ME TO GO.

I STARTED GOING TO SCHOOL BECAUSE I REALIZED I WASN'T ABLE TO GET A JOB.

I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR LIFE IN COLLEGE AND I STRUGGLE THE THROUGH A LOT OF MY CLASSES.

THAT'S WHERE THINGS KIND OF STARTED GOING DOWNHILL FROM THAT POINT ON.

I RAN OUT OF MY GI BILL.

I EVENTUALLY LOST ALL OF MY SAVINGS INCLUDING MY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT.

I JUST KIND OF GAVE IN.

I PUT STUFF IN STORAGE AND SLEPT IN MY CAR FOR THREE MONTHS.

AS A VET, I GOT MYSELF BACK ON MY FEET.

IT WAS REALLY JUST A PLACE FOR ME TO CATCH MY BREATH AND REALLY COME UP WITH A PLAN AND FIB MYSELF.

AND I REMEMBER EVERY MORNING I WOULD GET UP AND DO POWER YOGA FOR 20 MINUTES.

IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO FEEL GOOD PHYSICALLY.

I KNEW I WANTED TO TEACH NUTRITION.

SO ONE DAY THE OPPORTUNITY CAME, I JUMPED AT IT.

I WAS JUST HIRED BY THE NORFOLK PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM TO TEACH AT A HIGH SCHOOL.

I THINK IF I CAN GET TO THEM BEFORE COLLEGE TEACHING THEM ABOUT PROPER NUTRITION AND PORTION CONTROL AND HOW TO COOK VEGETABLES I THINK I WILL WIN.

SO I'M EXCITED ABOUT THAT.

I STARTED A PROJECT CALLED HOMELESS VETERANS TELL ALL WHICH IS A YOUTUBE CHANNEL THAT I CREATED.

AND SO BECAUSE I WALKED THROUGH THE PROCESS AND I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A HOMELESS VETERAN, I WANT THEM TO HAVE A SENSE OF DIGNITY AND JUST A PLACE FOR THEM TO TELL THEIR STORIES.

AS DIFFICULT AS HOMELESSNESS WAS, I WOULDN'T CHANGE A THING.

HOMELESSNESS HAS GIVEN ME A SENSE OF FOCUS AND PURPOSE AND URGENCY.

AND IT HAS ALSO ALLOWED ME TO REDEFINE THE TERM SUCCESS BECAUSE BEING SUCCESSFUL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HAVING MONEY OR FAME OR MARITAL STATUS ARE OR SOCIAL STATUS.

MY DEFINITION OF SUCCESS ENTER TWINES WITH HAVING AND SHOWING COMPASSION AND EVERY DAY, I WAKE UP AND I'M EXCITED ABOUT THAT BECAUSE I KNOW I'M MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

LEAVES OF GRASS' SONG OF MYSELF I SING THE BODY ELECTRIC OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN, ALL PENNED BY WALT WHITMAN.

ONE OF THE GREATEST WRITERS IN AMERICAN HISTORY, BORN IN LONG ISLAND, LONG-TIME BROOKLYN RESIDENT, NEW YORKERS FEEL A DEFINITIVE SENSE OF PRIDE TO HAVE HAD HIM ONCE AMONGST OUR MIDST.

IT'S BEEN 200 YEARS SINCE HIS BIRTH.

TO MARK THAT MILESTONE, HE IS BEING CELEBRATED IN AN EXHIBIT AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY.

HERE WITH DETAILS ABOUT THE EXHIBIT AND THE LIFE OF THE BARRED OF BROOKLYN IS MICHAEL INMAN, CURATOR OF RARE BOOKS.

NICE TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

WHAT IS IT THAT YOU THINK ABOUT TODAY THAT CAN MAKE HIM EVEN BE MORE RELEVANT TO US?

WELL, I THINK IT'S NO SECRET RIGHT NOW OUR COUNTRY IS DIVIDED IN MANY WAYS AND NOT ONLY OUR COUNTRY BUT YOU SEE THIS AROUND THE GLOBE.

AND WHITMAN DURING HIS OWN TIME SOUGHT TO THE WRITE A VOLUME OF POEMS 'LEAVES OF GRASS' THAT WOULD ENCOMPASS THE FULL RANGE OF MUSEUM HUMAN EXPERIENCE IS, CERTAINLY THE AMERICANS EXPERIENCE TO GIVE VOICE AND CELEBRATE THE VALUES OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE VALUES OF THE COLLECTIVE.

I THINK RIGHT NOW THE THAT GEOA OF HIS CONTINUES TO SPEAK TO US ACROSS TIME.

THE EXHIBIT IS BROKEN DOWN BASICALLY INTO FIVE COMPONENTS.

GIVE US A QUICK SENTENCE OR TWO EXPLAINING WHAT IT'S GOING TO BE.

YOU START OFF WITH HIS FORMATIVE YEARS.

YES, THIS FIRST SECTION OF THE EXHIBITION TRACES HIS DEVELOPMENT AS A POET REALLY FROM THE TIME OF HIS BIRTH IN 1819 UP UNTIL THAT MOMENT WHEN 'LEAVES OF GRASS' IS FIRST PUBLISHED IN JULY, 155.

YOU AS YOU GO THROUGH THE EXHIBITION YOU IS SEE CERTAIN GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS THAT INFLUENCED HIS DEVELOPMENT AND PLAYED A ROLE IN HIS SHAPING HIS WORLD VIEW, THE THREE PRIMARY ONES BEING RURAL LONG AN ISLAND WHERE HE WAS BORN, BROOKLYN WHERE HE SPENT 27 OF HIS 72 YEARS LIVING THERE, AND THEN MANHATTAN WHICH HE LOVED GREATLY.

AND THEN, AS WELL, YOU'LL SEE LITERARY WORKS THAT CERTAINLY INFLUENCED HIS DEVELOPMENT AS A POET, THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIS POETICS WHICH WERE QUITE GROUND BREAKING IN MANY WAYS.

HE'S OFTEN CALLED THE FATHER OF FREE VERSE.

THE WRITING ABOUT THE URBAN EXPERIENCE, FOR EXAMPLE, AND THE INVENTIVE USE OF LANGUAGE AND RHYTHM AND SO FORTH.

YOU FIND ALL THESE ELEMENTS IN HIS POETRY.

ONE OF THE THINGS I THINK WAS STRIKING YOU MENTIONED 1855 LEAVES OF GRASS' IS NOT THE RAMP PAGING SUCCESS HE WANTED.

IT WAS ACTUALLY THE OPPOSITE.

WHAT HELPED TO SORT OF PROPEL HIM THE STORY IS HOW HE LOSES HIS JOB.

RIGHT.

AND THAT THE LOSS OF HIS JOB IN SOME WAYS BECOMES A SPRINGBOARD.

GIVE ME A QUICK VERSION OF THAT.

IN THE SPRING OF 16E LANDSED A JOB IN THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AS A CLERK.

AND IN LATE JUNE OF 1865, THE THEN SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, A MAN NAMED JAMES HARLAN WAS WALKING AROUND PRESUMABLY AFTER HOURS AND SPIED A COPY OF 'LEAVES OF GRASS' EITHER IN WALT WHITMAN'S DRAWER OR LAYING ON TOP OF HIS DESK.

WHITMAN DURING HIS OFF HOURS AND PROBABLY DURING WORK HOURS WAS CONSTANTLY REVISING THE POEM AND WAS WRITING AND NOTATIONSES INTO THIS VOLUME.

HARLAN PICKS UP THE BOOK AND BEGINS LEAVING THROUGH IT AND WAS COMPLETELY AGHAST AT WHAT HE SAW.

AND THE NEXT DAY, HE SENT A TERMINATION LETTER TO WHITMAN, A TERSELY WORDED ONE SAYINGES ARE OF THIS MOMENT.

WE WILL ACTUALLY HAVE IN THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY NOT ONLY THAT VOLUME WHICH WAS THE THIRD EDITION, WHITMAN'S COPY OF IT, THE 1860 EDITION CALLED THE BLUE BOOK BECAUSE OF ITS BLUE COVERS WHICH HAS ALL THE AND NOTATIONS IN IT BUT ALSO HAVE THE TERMINATION LETTER IN IT, AS WELL SITTING SIDE BY SIDE.

THESE ARE TWO HOLY GRAILS OF AMERICAN LITERARY HISTORY.

SEVERAL OF WHITMAN'S CLOSEST FRIENDS RUSHED TO HIS DEFENSE.

HE LANDS ANOTHER JOB QUICKLY IN THE GOVERNMENT IN ANOTHER DEPARTMENT.

SEVERAL OF HIS FRIENDS WRITE BOOKS EXTOLLING HIS VALUE AS A POET SAYING ESSENTIALLY HE'S THE BARRED OF DEMOCRACY.

HE'S A VERY MORALLYHASTE FIGURE WHO HAS BEEN HORRIBLY IGNORED BY THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.

YOU KNOW, IT SORT OF BEGINS PAINTING OF THIS SORT OF SAGE BEN LEV LEND FIGURE.

ONE OF THE BOOKS WRITTEN IN HIS DEFENSE WAS CALLED 'THE GOOD GRAY POET.'

THAT THE SOON BECOMES HIS NICKNAME AND WHITMAN TRIES TO LIVE UP TO THIS IMAGE OF THIS SORT OF BEARDED SAGE FIGURE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.

ANTON THIS DAY, THAT IS HOW WE THINK OF WHITMAN WHEN WE DO THINK OF HIM, THIS BEARDED SAGE FIGURING.

> THIS COMES FROM HIM BEING FIRED.

HE BECOMES THE WALT WHITMAN WEISE KNOW.

THERE ARE MANY GREAT STORIES TOLD IN THIS EXHIBITION.

IT IS A GREAT EXHIBIT AND I'M SURE PEOPLE WILL ENJOY IT.

I HOPE SO AND I HOPE EVERYONE WILL SEE IT.

THEY WILL.

THANK YOU FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY'S EXHIBIT, YOU CAN VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001, THE UNITED STATES IS ATTACKED BY TERRORISTS AND THE U.S. FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION MAKES THE DECISION TO SHUT DOWN ITS AIR SPACE FORCING OVER 4,000 PLANES TO LAND AT THE NEAREST AIRPORT.

INBOUND FLIGHTS FROM THE EUROPE ARE DIVERTED TO CANADA AND IN A HEART BEAT, 38 PLANES WITH 6,5799 PASSENGERS WERE STRANDED IN A REMOTE TOWN IN NEWFOUNDLAND.

THE LOCALS OPENED THEIR HEARTS AND THEIR HOMES HOSTING THIS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF STRANGERS.

AND UNEXPECTED CAMARADERIE TAKING PLACE IN THESE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES.

WELL, THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED AND BROADWAY SMASH HIT 'COME FROM AWAY' OF THE RECENTLY CELEBRATING ITS SECONDS ANNIVERSARY TELLS THEIR REMARKABLE TRUE STORY.

TAKE A QUICK LOOK.

♪ ♪ IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, IN THE MIDDLE WHO KNOWS WHERE YOU'LL FIND ♪ ♪ ♪ IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF CLEAR BLUE AIR YOU'VE FOUND YOUR HEART BUT LEFT A PART OF YOU BEHIND ♪

AND WE ARE DELIGHTED TO HAVE JOINING US NOW THE TONY NOMINATED WRITERS OF COME FROM AWAY'S' BOOK MUSIC AND LYRICS, IRENE SANKOFF AND DAVID HEIN.

OUR PLEASURE.

MY WIFE AND I WENT TO SEE IT AND THE OPENING NUMBER, YOU HEAR THE DRUM BEATS AND THEN IT'S WELCOME TO THE ROCK.

ON THE NORTHEAST TIP OF NORTH AMERICA ON AN ISLAND CALLED NEWFOUNDLAND THERE'S AN AIRPORT.

AND NEXT TO IT IS A TOWN CALLED GANDER.

AND IT'S SUCH A CREATIVE WAY OF TELLING THE STORY WITH THIS GREAT DRIVING MUSIC BEHIND IT.

HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

WE WERE SORT OF FREED BY THE FACT THAT WE WERE WORKING IN CANADA AND DEVELOPING IT AT FIRST FORCE A COLLEGE OUT THERE.

WE DIDN'T HAVE TO ADHERE TO ANY OF THE LULS OF MUSICAL THEATER.

UNFETTERED.

> I KIND OF THOUGHT THIS WON'T BE DONE IN THE STATES.

THIS WILL BE A CANADIAN STORY.

OKAY?

SO LET'S TELL THE STORY THE BEST WAY WE KNOW HOW AND NOT GO BACK TO THE RULES THAT WERE SET UP NEARLY A CENTURY AGO LIKE LET'S JUST DO WHAT WORKS FOR THE STORY.

ALONG THOSE LINES BRINGING THE NEWFOUNDLAND MUSIC ON TO STAGE WITH THESE INSTRUMENTS THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN ON A BROADWAY STAGE AND YOU PUT IT ON THERE AND IT FEELS COMPLETELY NEW AND SUDDENLY YOU'RE BROUGHT TO NEWFOUNDLAND.

THAT'S WHAT WE WANTED TO DO, TO SAY THIS ISN'T A 9/11 STORY.

THIS IS ABOUT HOW THIS TOWN RESPONDED TO A TRAGEDY, JOM WITH US TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND SEE THIS REMARKABLE THING THAT HAPPENED IN RESPONSE.

LET ME TALK ABOUT THE GENESIS.

HOW THIS ALL GOT STARTED.

9/11, WHERE WERE THE TWO OF YOU?

WE WERE LIVING HERE IN NEW YORK.

WE WERE ACTUALLY LIVING AT A RESIDENCE FOR INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENTS, AND SO MANY OF US WHERE IS WAITING FOR NEWS FROM DOWN THERE.

AND WE CAME TOGETHER.

THERE WAS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY THAT CAME TOGETHER TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER AS NEIGHBORS AND AS FRIENDS.

AND ON THAT DAY, SUDDENLY, NONE OF OUR DIFFERENCES MATTERED.

WE ALL CAME TOGETHER.

AND THEN TEN YEARS LATER WHEN WE FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS STORY, SOMETHING ABOUT IT RESONATED WITH US.

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THE STORY?

A FRIEND OF OURS WAS STARTING THE CANADIAN MUSIC THEATER PROJECT, AND HE HAD ACTUALLY APPROACHED ABOUT FIVE OR SIX DIFFERENT COMPOSING TEAMS WITH THIS IDEA AND THEY HAD ALL SAID NO.

AND IT'S EXACTLY WHAT DAVID SAID.

IT SEEMED FAMILIAR TO US, A BUNCH OF PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES AND DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS.

WE HAD PEOPLE WHO.

REFUGEES AND REFUGEES IN GANDER.

WE THOUGHT MY GOSH, WE'VE SEEN THESE IMAGES OVER AND OVER AGAIN, THE HORRIFYING ONES AND KIND OF FORGOTTEN WHAT IT WAS LIKE IN TERMS OF BEING SOMEBODY WHO WAS WAITING FOR NEWS, SOMEONE WHO WAS BEING TAKEN CARE OF BY SOMEONE ELSE WHILE WE WERE EXPECTING THE WORST AND WE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE STORIES WE HEARD AND WITH THE WAY THE PEOPLE OF GANDER AND SURROUNDING TOWNS AND TOWNS ACROSS CANADA LOOKED AFTER PEOPLE WHO WERE STRANDED THERE.

TALK ABOUT THE INVESTIGATIVE PROCESS IF YOU WILL.

I'VE SEEN AND HEARD YOU TALK ABOUT THAT AND HOW EXTENSIVE AND EXTRAORDINARY IT WAS INVOLVED THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY GATHERING AT GANDER.

WE FOUND OUT THERE WAS GOING TO BE A COMMEMORATION HAPPENING ON THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY AND ALL OF THESE COME FROM WAYS.

I LOVE THE TERM, THEY COME FROM AWAY.

THEY WERE ALL RETURNING TEN YEARS LATER WHICH SAYS A LOT ABOUT THEM.

IT'S A HARD PLACE TO GET TO AND IT'S FAR AND IT'S TEN YEARS LATER.

THAT HE SAYS A LOT ABOUT THE FRIENDSHIPS THAT THEY ENDURED THAT LONG.

WE TALKED TO PEOPLE FOR HOURS.

EVERYONE HEN THOUSANDS OF STORIES, EVERY STORY BETTER THAN THE NEXT ONE.

AFTER TALKING TO PEOPLE FOR HOURS THEY INVITED BACK TO THEIR HOUSES FOR DINNER AND INVITUS TO STAY WITH THEM.

ONE COUPLE SAID HERE'S THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE.

WE'LL SEE YOU LATER.

WE DON'T KNOW THE YOU.

HOW DO YOU DISTILL THESE STORIES INTO ON STAGE 12 ACTOR AND AN AMAZING IT STAGE, HOW CHAIRS ARE NOT JUST PROPS BUT THEY'RE PART OF THE EXPERIENCE IN SOME WAYS.

HOW DID YOU FIGURE OUT THIS IS THE WAY WE HAVE TO DO IT.

THERE'S SO MUCH GROUND THAT WE COVER.

LITERALLY, WE'RE IN A TOWN HALL, WE'RE ON AN AIRPLANE, WE'RE IN THE HOLD OF THE SPCA.

WE'RE IN A CLASSROOM.

THERE'S NOT TIME TO SWITCH SETS IN AND OUT.

IT'S JUST ALWAYS BEST I THINK SOMETIMES FOR THEATER TO LEAVE IT UP TO THE AUDIENCE'S IMAGINATION.

IT FEELS LIKE NEWFOUNDLAND SOMEHOW.

NEWFOUNDLANDERS HAVE GOTTEN THROUGH TERRIBLE WINTERS BY HAVING KITCHEN PARTIES AND IT BASICALLY MEANS WHEN THE SNOW IS UP TWO STORIES DEEP, THEY DIG TO EACH OTHER'S KITCHENS AND ALL BRING INSTRUMENTS BECAUSE THEY ALL PLAY INSTRUMENTS AND SING SONGS AND TELL STORIES AND THAT'S HOW THEY GET THROUGH CRISISES.

YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE IN A HANGAR OR A GYM OR SOMETHING.

PR.

IT WASN'T AN ELABORATE SETTING BUT A SETTING THAT TOOK YOU WHERE YOU NEEDED TO BE.

WHAT TAKES AN AUDIENCE AND DOESN'T JUST ENTERTAIN THEM BUT MAKES THEM BECOME SO INVESTED IN THIS STORY?

I FEEL LIKE THERE'S NEVER A BAD TIME TO TELL A STORY ABOUT HUMAN KINDNESS.

PARTICULARLY RIGHT NOW WHEN YOU'RE NEWS FREED FILLED WITH ANGER AND DIVISION.

IT FEELS LIKE US AND THEM CONSTANTLY.

IT FEELS LIKE A STORY ABOUT PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ACTUALLY COMING TOGETHER AND ACTUALLY OVERCOMING THEIR DIFFERENCES.

THIS STORY TELLS YOU THAT REAL PEOPLE IN A TRUE STORY RESPONDED WITH KINDNESS AND IT BE REMINDS YOU, IT REMINDS US THAT YOU CAN RESPOND WITH KINDNESS TO THESE EVENTS AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO WAIT FOR A TRAGEDY.

YOU CAN JUST RESPOND TO KINDNESS EVERY DAY.

IT'S A UNIQUE TYPE OF BRAVERY WE DON'T OFTEN SEE CELEBRATED.

IT'S A UNIQUE TYPE OF INTELLIGENCE WHICH IN TERMS OF RESPONDING TO A TRAGEDY THAT WE DON'T SEE EVERY DAY.

WE, IT'S A GREAT STORY, GREAT MESSAGING, ESSENTIALLY WHAT MAKES UP GREAT THEATER.

I KNOW YOU'RE PROUD OF IT.

YOU SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF THE WORK YOU'VE DONE AND WHAT PEOPLE TAKE AWAY FROM IT.

JUST A PLEASURE TALKING WITH YOU.

ME, TOO.

FROM ONE OF THEIR MOST ENJOYABLE THEATER EXPERIENCES EVER, THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

BE WELL.

A REMINDER FOR YOU FOLKS, 'COME FROM AWAY' AT THE GERALD SCHOENFELD THEATER.

LOGON TO METROFOCUS.ORG FOR MORE INFORMATION.

FRZ

'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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