METROFOCUS: SEPTEMBER 16, 2019

Out of 895 slots to attend the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, only 7 Black and 21 Hispanic students were accepted. Why? We take a deep dive into the racial divide that exists in New York’s specialized schools and look for solutions. Rock and roll icon Graham Nash is back with a preview of his upcoming shows right here in our area. It’s been 25 years since Disney classics hit the Great White Way. We’ll look back at their impact on the theater and New York City.

Aired on September 16, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' EDUCATION SEGREGATION.

OUT OF 895 SLOTS AVAILABLE AT NEW YORK'S PRESTIGIOUS STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL SCHOOL, ONLY 21 BLACK AND HISPANICS WERE ACCEPTED.

WHY?

WE EXPLORE THE RACIAL DIVERSITY IN OUR SCHOOLS AND LOOK AT POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS.

> IT'S DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN FOR CROSBY, STILLS & NASH ICON GRAHAM NASH.

HE IS BACK TO TALK ABOUT THE FASCINATING IDEA BEHIND HIS NEW SOLO TOUR IN THE TRI-STATE AREA AND ABOUT HIS UPCOMING SHOW HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

> IT'S BEEN 25 YEARS SINCE DISNEY CLASSICS HIT THE GREAT WHITE WAY.

WE'LL LOOK BACK AT THEIR IMPACT ON THEATER AND ON THE CITY.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS METRO 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 METRO WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING INTO NEW YORK CITY'S EIGHT SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS, QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN RAISED WHETHER EVERY STUDENT INDEED HAS A FAIR SHOT.

STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL, OFTEN CONSIDERED THE CITY'S MOST SELECTIVE AND PRESTIGIOUS OF ALL OF ITS PUBLIC HIGHS, BUT HERE IS THE RUB.

OUT OF 895 OPEN FRESHMEN SLOTS AVAILABLE FOR INCOMING STUDENTS, ONLY SEVEN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND 21 HISPANIC STUDENTS WERE SELECTED FOR ACCEPTANCE.

CRITICS SAY THE S.H.S.A.T. OR SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS TEST IS TO BLAME, WHICH GIVES LOW INCOME, ASIAN AND WHITE STUDENTS AN ADVANTAGE.

BUT ARE THERE OTHER FACTORS AT PLAY HERE AND ARE THERE OTHER SOLUTIONS?

WE'RE HERE WITH A COLUMNIST FOR NEW YORK SCHOOL TALK AND A AUTHOR OF 'GETTING INTO NYC HIGH SCHOOL' AND GETTING INTO NYC KINDERGARTEN.'

YOU'RE CERTAINLY SOMEBODY WHO HAS STUDIED ALL THIS AND LIVED THROUGH ALL THIS.

LET ME ASK TAO YOU'VE TO START, FOR FOLKS WHO MIGHT NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH THIS TEST.

EXPLAIN WHY WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT WORKS WITH REGARD TO THIS SELECTION PROCESS.

THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS TEST, THE SHSAT IS A TEST THAT KIDS TAKE IN OCTOBER OF THEIR EIGHTH GRADE YEAR IN ORDER TO APPLY TO ONE OF THE SPECIALIZED NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS.

WHAT HAPPENS IS ABOUT 30,000 KIDS TAKE THE TEST, AND THEN THEY TAKE THEIR SCORE AND THEY RANK THEM ALMOST LITERALLY FROM NUMBER ONE TO NUMBER 30,000, WITH OBVIOUSLY A LOT OF TIES.

AND THEN ON THE DAY THE KIDS HAVE TAKEN THE TEST, THEY HAVE RANKED THE EIGHT SCHOOLS IN THE ORDER THAT THEY PREFER.

SO THEY HAVE ELEMENT OF CONTRIBUTION, IF YOU WILL TO THE DECISION SAYING THIS IS MY ORDER.

YES, EXACTLY.

AND NOT EVERYBODY CHOOSES THE SAME SCHOOL.

YOU MENTIONED STUYVESANT IS CONSIDERED THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS OF THEM.

BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS IF YOU'RE A KID WHO LIVES AT THE BOTTOM OF BROOKLYN, MAYBE YOUR FIRST CHOICE IS STATEN ISLAND TECH OR BROOKLYN TECH.

IT REALLY DEPENDS A LOT ON THE GEOGRAPHIC PIECE, ALSO THE DIFFERENT SCHOOLS OFFER DIFFERENT NUMBERS OF STUDENTS DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES.

SO IT'S NOT LIKE EVERYONE AGREES THAT THIS IS THE RANK ORDER OF THEM.

SO THE KIDS WHEN THEY TAKE THE TEST, THEY RANK THE ORDER THAT THEY PREFER OF THE SCHOOLS.

THEY DON'T HAVE TO RANK ALL EIGHT.

AND THEN AN ALGORITHM BASICALLY PULLS THE FIRST KID, THE KID WHO HAS THE HIGHEST SCORE AND IS SAYS WHAT'S THIS KID'S FIRST CHOICE?

STUYVESANT.

OKAY.

THEN THEY GO TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE.

THEY PULL THE NUMBER 500 KIDS.

WHAT'S HIS FIRST CHOICE?

BRONX SCIENCE.

KEEP GOING DOWN.

THEY PULL THE ONE THOUSANDTH'S KID.

STUYVESANT IS FULL.

WHAT'S HIS SECOND CHOICE?

BRONX SCIENCE.

HE IS GOING TO BRONX SCIENCE, AND SO ON DOWN THE LIST UNTIL ALL THE SLOTS IN EVERY SCHOOL ARE FILLED.

AM I CORRECT THAT'S THE ABSOLUTE DETERMINING FACTOR WHERE THEY GO?

THIS IS NOT LIKE COLLEGE APPLICATIONS WHERE LET'S LOOK AT WHAT THEY DID IN SCHOOL.

WHERE THEY IN THE DRAMA CLUB.

YOU ARE 100% CORRECT.

SO THAT NUMBER.

THAT'S IT.

PUTS YOU IN.

NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

YOUR GRADES DON'T MATTER.

YOUR STATE TEST SCORES DON'T MATTER.

YOUR ATTENDANCE DOESN'T MATTER.

EXTRACURRICULARS, INTERVIEW, PORTFOLIO, NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

THE ONLY EIGHT SCHOOLS IN THE CITY THAT ADMIT THAT WAY ARE THE SHSAT SCHOOLS AND SHSAT IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS.

I WANT TO GET TO ALL THIS IN A SECOND.

JUST TO FLUSH OUT THIS PICTURE, THERE ARE SOME 400 HIGH SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK CITY.

AND ABOUT 700 PROGRAMS WITHIN THEM.

AND AM I CORRECT THERE ARE SOME OTHER HIGH SCHOOLS THAT ARE SELECTIVE.

YES.

IN SOME WAY, SHAPE OR FORM?

YES.

ABOUT 100.

WHAT DO THEY LOOK TO?

ABOUT 130 SCHOOLS ARE WHAT ARE CALLED SCREEN SCHOOLS.

THEY'RE EITHER STAND ALONE SCHOOLS OR SCREENED PROGRAMS WITHIN OTHER SCHOOLS.

THEY DO LOOK AT GRADES.

THEY DO LOOK AT STATE TEST SCORES.

THEY DO LOOK AT ATTENDANCE.

SOME OF THEM WILL ASK THE KIDS TO SUBMIT A WRITING SAMPLE.

SOME OF THEM WILL HAVE THEM WRITE TO A PROMPT.

SOME OF THEM HAVE THEIR OWN TEST.

SOME OF THEM HAVE AN INTERVIEW AND SOME REVIEW PORTFOLIOS AND SOME HAVE A PERFORMING ARTS COMPONENT.

SO THOSE ARE SCREENED SCHOOLS.

THEY ARE SEPARATE FROM THE SHSAT.

I MENTIONED THERE HAVE BEEN SOME CONCERNS EXPRESSED ABOUT THIS TEST.

THE MAYOR HAS ESSENTIALLY SAID THIS IS UNFAIR.

WE WANT TO DO AWAY WITH IT.

NOW THAT HIS OWN SON HAS GRADUATED.

THAT'S AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION.

AND YOU WROTE A VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE WHERE YOU SAID ESSENTIALLY, LOOK, WE'RE KILLING THE MESSAGE HERE.

WHY DO YOU THEN THINK OR DISAGREE I THINK IT IS FAIR TO SAY WITH THE POSITION OF PEOPLE SAYING WE NEED TO THROW THIS TEST OUT TO MAKE SURE WE'RE MORE FAIR AND OUR STUDENTS HAVE BETTER OPPORTUNITY?

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, ONCE AGAIN, LET'S LOOK AT THE NUMBERS.

EIGHT SHSAT SCHOOLS.

130 SCREENED SCHOOL, 400 GENERAL HIGH SCHOOLS.

FIRST OF ALL, WE'RE JUST FOCUSING ON A TINY SLIVER OF SCHOOLS THAT AFFECT A VERY, VERY SMALL PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION.

SECOND, THE MAYOR IS TRYING TO CHANGE ADMISSIONS TO THE SHSAT SCHOOLS, WHICH HE CANNOT DO ON HIS OWN.

HE COULD TO FIVE OF THEM.

HE CAN'T TO THE BIG THREE AS THEY'RE CALLED, STUYVESANT, BRONX SCIENCE AND BROOKLYN TECH THAT HAS TO GO TO THE STATE ASSEMBLY.

HE COULD CHANGE ADMISSIONS TO THE 130 OTHER SCHOOLS.

HE COULD CHANGE ADMISSIONS TO ALL OF THE OTHER PUBLIC SCHOOLS, WHICH AFFECT SO MANY MORE STUDENTS, ESPECIALLY STUDENTS OF COLOR, ESPECIALLY LOW INCOME SCHOOLS.

SO TO START WITH, I THINK WE'RE FOCUSING ON THE WRONG THING.

WE'RE TRYING TO CHANGE EIGHT SCHOOLS INSTEAD OF ALL OF THE REST OF THEM.

THE SECOND ISSUE IS THE SHSAT IS A DIAGNOSTIC.

IT SHOWS WHAT A TERRIBLE EDUCATION THE MAJORITY OF THE KIDS IN NEW YORK CITY ARE GETTING.

I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THIS IS TEST IS A BIG DEAL.

YOU SAY THIS TEST IS A SYMPTOM OF THE DISEASE.

THE TEST IS NOT THE DISEASE.

YES, YES, VERY MUCH SO.

HERE'S THE THING.

THE TEST IS ABOVE GRADE LEVEL.

IT'S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT PEOPLE SAY WELL, STATE TEST SCORES SHOULD BE JUST AS GOOD FOR APPLYING TO AN SHSAT SCHOOL AS THE SHSAT IS.

STATE TEST SCORES TELL YOU IF THE CHILD IS ON GRADE LEVEL OR SLIGHTLY ABOVE GRADE LEVEL.

THE SHSAT ACTUALLY TESTS SUBJECTS LIKE ALGEBRA, IT HAS SOME GEOMETRY ON IT.

IT DOESN'T HAVE GEOGRAPHY.

NEW YORK SCHOOLS ARE NOT GOOD WITH GEOGRAPHY.

IT HAS ALGEBRA.

IT HAS GEOMETRY.

IT HAS SOME GRAMMAR, AND ALL OF THESE THINGS.

THEY'RE LOOK FOR KIDS THAT ARE ENOUGH ABOVE GRADE LEVEL THAT THEY CAN DO ACCELERATED WORK.

SOME KIDS COME INTO STUYVESANT AND CAKE TAN AP CLASS THE FRESHMEN YEAR.

THEY'RE PREPARED FOR THAT.

THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS STATE TEST SCORES ARE NOT EQUAL TO WHAT THE SHSAT IS TESTING.

SO WHAT THE SHSAT IS SHOWING IS HOW VERY, VERY FEW NEW YORK CITY STUDENTS ARE PREPARED TO DO ACCELERATED WORK.

WHAT IS -- YOU AND I CAN TALK ABOUT THIS.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE DON'T HAVE THAT MUCH TIME.

BUT -- SO CLEARLY YOUR THESIS IS THIS IS SHOWING US THAT THE SCHOOLS ARE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB.

THAT SO FEW PEOPLE ARE PREPARED FOR THIS ABOVE LEVEL.

WHAT'S THE ANSWER?

WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING?

WHAT DO YOU THINK NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS SHOULD BE DOING INSTEAD?

FIRST OF ALL, LET'S TALK ABOUT RAISING THE BAR FOR ALL KIDS, AND LET'S TALK ABOUT RAISING IT NOT IN NINTH GRADE, BUT RAISING IT AT THE KINDERGARTEN LEVEL.

THE MAYOR KEEPS ADDING MORE PIECES TO THE SCHOOL SYSTEM.

HE ADD UPK.

HE IS TRYING TO ADD 3PK.

BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THE BAR IS STILL SO LOW.

WHAT WE CALL GIFTED EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES WOULD BE CONSIDERED GENERAL ED AND THREE YEARS AGO IN EUROPE AND ASIA.

IF THOSE KIDS CAN DO THE WORK, THERE IS NO REASON WHY OUR KIDS CAN'T DO THE WORK.

YOU AND I CAN TALK HOURS.

WE'RE GOING GET YOU BACK IN AND TALK SOME MORE ABOUT IT.

A PLEASURE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING WITH YOU AGAIN.

YOU BE WELL.

THANK YOU.

> GRAHAM NASH, A ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE AS A MEMBER OF A HOLLIE AND THE LEGENDARY CROSBY, STILLS & NASH HAS BEEN MAKING MUSIC FOR NEARLY 60 YEARS.

HIS PARTNERSHIP WITH CROSBY, STILLS AND YOUNG LASTED ONLY A MONTH.

YET SOME OF THE SONGS HE WROTE SUCH AS MARRAKESH EXPRESS, TEACH YOUR CHILDREN AND OUR HOUSE ARE EMBEDDED IN THE DNA OF THE '60s GENERATION.

GRAHAM NASH CONTINUES TO PERFORM AS A SOLO ARTIST, AND NOW IS GETTING READY TO LAUNCH A FULL TOUR IN THE TRI-STATE AREA, INCLUDING A SEPTEMBER 27th PERFORMANCE AT THE TOWN HALL HEATER IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT'S A TOUR UNLIKE ANY NASH HAS DONE BEFORE.

AND HE WAS GRACIOUS ENOUGH TO SIT WITH ME RECENTLY TO TALK ABOUT WHAT WOULD MAKE IT SO UNIQUE.

GRAHAM, WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

IT'S ALWAYS GREAT TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU.

GRAHAM, YOU'RE STARTING A NEW TOUR THIS FALL WHERE YOU ARE REVISITING YOUR FIRST TWO SOLO ALBUMS, SONGS FOR BEGINNERS AND WILD --

TALES.

I DIDN'T IS ALSO THE NAME OF YOUR BOOK.

YES.

IN THEIR ENTIRETY.

YES.

HAVE YOU DONE THIS BEFORE?

NEVER.

SO WHY NOW?

I SAW STEELY DAN AT THE BEACON THEATER DO A COUPLE OF THEIR ALBUMS FROM START TO FINISH, AND I THOUGHT IT WAS A REALLY COOL IDEA.

AND THIS HAS BEEN BUDGETED MANY TIMES IN MY LIFE, BUT PARTICULARLY STRONGLY MY WIFE AMY GRANTHAM WANTED TO SEE THAT SHOW.

TWO OF HER FAVORITE ALBUMS, AND SHE WANTED ME TO DO THAT.

AND I THOUGHT YEAH, YOU KNOW WHAT?

IT IS A REALLY GOOD IDEA.

I THINK WE'LL START TO DO THAT.

SO ON THE 25th OF SEPTEMBER I STARTED THE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER.

IT'S A SMALL CLUB.

I WANTED TO GET THE FIRST ONE AND WORK OUT THE LITTLE FUNNY STUFF THAT WILL PROBABLY GO ON.

ON THE 27th, I PLAY THE TOWN HALL HERE IN MANHATTAN.

28th I'LL BE IN ALBANY AT THE EGG.

AND THE 29th I'LL BE AT THE BERKELEY COMMUNITY CENTER DOING SONGS FOR BEGINNERS, TAKE AN INTERMISSION AND THEN DO WILD TALES START TO FINISH.

AMAZING.

YEAH.

I'M ACTUALLY LOOKING VERY MUCH FORWARD TO IT.

SO WHEN YOU LOOK BACK, THESE SONGS ARE ALMOST -- THESE ALBUMS ARE ALMOST 50 YEARS OLD.

NOT ALMOST.

SO WHEN YOU LOOK BACK TO THOSE ALBUMS, WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THOSE MUSIC, THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THE SONGWRITING IN THEM THAT SURPRISES YOU?

NOT THAT SURPRISES ME.

THE LAST RECORD I PUT OUT I REALIZED THERE HAD NEVER BEEN A GREATEST HITS FOR WANT OF A BETTER WORD.

YES, GREATEST HITS OF THE HOLLIES.

GREATEST HITS OF CSN, GREATEST HITS OF CSNY.

NOT OF MY MUSIC.

IN THE LAST THREE OR FOUR YEARS, I REALIZED THE 15 SONGS MY FANS REALLY LOVE SO, I PUT THEM ON.

AND THEN I THOUGHT PEOPLE ARE PROBABLY BOUGHT ALL THIS MUSIC IN SEVERAL FORMATS FROM VINYL TO CDs TO DVD, THE BLU-RAY, ET CETERA.

HOW CAN I MAKE THIS SPECIAL?

SO I WENT INTO MY ARCHIVE AND I BROUGHT OUT 15 OF THE DEMOS FOR THOSE SONGS.

WHEN YOU ENJOY MUSIC, BUT YOU DON'T PLAY MUSIC, THE ART OF SONGWRITING IS QUITE MYSTERIOUS TO THOSE PEOPLE.

THEY WANT TO KNOW, YOU KNOW, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU WROTE 'OUR HOUSE.'

WHERE WAS YOUR HEAD AT WHEN YOU WROTE 'TEACH YOUR CHILDREN' OR 'MILITARY MADNESS' OR 'CHICAGO'? AND IN MY SHOW I SHOW PEOPLE HOW THOSE SONGS CAME TO LIFE.

IT'S VERY INTERESTING FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T WRITE MUSIC BECAUSE THEY WANT TO KNOW.

WHERE DO THE MELODIES COME FROM?

THE LYRICS?

COME ON, WHAT'S GOING ON?

HOW DO YOU DO THAT.

I WISH I KNEW.

MANY OF THESE SOPNGS, PARTICULARLY FROM YOUR FIRST ALBUM PARTICULARLY AFTER YOU BROKE WITH JONI MITCHELL ARE VERY PERSONAL.

SOME OF THOSE SONGS REFLECT THAT BREAKUP.

INDEED.

HOW DOES IT FEEL EMOTIONALLY DO TO GO BECOME TO THOSE SONGS, PARTICULARLY WHEN YOU'RE PERFORMING THEM EVERY NIGHT?

IS IT PAINFUL IN SOME WAY OR HAS TIME HEALED ALL WOUNDS?

I THINK TIME WOUNDS ALL HEALS.

I TRIED TO SING THOSE SONGS WITH A SAME PASSION THAT I WROTE THEM WITH.

I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW TWO THINGS.

ONE, I WANT TO BE THERE MAKING MUSIC FOR THEM.

IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

THE AUDIENCE CAN SPOT IMMEDIATELY WHETHER YOU WANT TO BE THERE OR NOT.

RIGHT?

AND SECONDLY, IF I CAN SEE THEM SMILING ON THE WAY OUT, I KNOW I'VE DONE MY JOB, BECAUSE THEY PAY HARD EARNED MONEY TO COME SEE ME.

I WANT TO GIVE THEM VALUE FOR THEIR MONEY.

AND SO IT'S A COMBINATION OF THE SONGS AND THE STORIES BEHIND THOSE SONGS THAT'S QUITE FASCINATING TO PEOPLE.

HOW DID YOUR SOLO WORK DEPART FROM THE WORK YOU'VE DONE PREVIOUSLY WITH THE HOLLIES AND WITH CROSBY, STILLS & NASH AND CROSBY, STILLS & NASH, YOUNG?

SINCE I'VE LEFT THE HOLLIES, I'VE NEVER WRITTEN A SONG FOR CSN OR CSNY.

I'VE ONLY WRITTEN FOR ME.

WE HAVE THE REALITY RULE.

IF I SIT YOU DOWN AND YOU'RE DAVID AND STEVEN.

IF I SIT YOU DOWN AND THERE IS NO REACTION, YOU'LL NEVER HEAR THAT SONG AGAIN.

IF I PLAY A SONG AND CROSBY HEY, I KNOW WHAT I'M GOING TO DO IN THE CHORUS OR STEVEN KNOWS WHAT HE'S GOING TO DO AS AN INTRO, NOW WE'RE TALKING.

AND WE ONLY EVER RECORDED SONGS ALL THREE OF US LOVE.

YOUR SONGS ARE NOT ONLY PERSONAL.

A NUMBER OF YOUR SONGS ARE POLITICAL BECAUSE YOU'RE POLITICAL.

BUT LET'S VISIT AT THIS A SECOND.

YES.

WHEN FOUR KIDS STAND AT THEIR COLLEGE, THEIR UNIVERSITY AND PROTEST WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING IN THEIR NAME, PARTICULARLY NIXON AND KISSINGER'S SECRET BOMBING OF CAMBODIA AT THE TIME AT KENT STATE, WHEN THEY GOT SLAUGHTERED, IS THAT PERSONAL OR IS THAT POLITICAL?

WHEN YOU CHAIN BOBBY SEAL TO A CHAIR AND GOLFERS TAPE HIS MOUTH SHUT, IS THAT POLITICAL OR IS THAT HUMAN?

WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL HERE.

BUT I DO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU MEAN.

THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL, AS WE LEARNED IN THE '60s.

INDEED.

BUT ONE OF THOSE SONGS WHICH WE WERE TALKING ABOUT BEFORE THE CAMERAS STARTED ROLLING, 'CHICAGO,' STILL GIVES ME CHILLS WHEN I HEAR THAT.

FANTASTIC.

BUT I HAD MISUNDERSTOOD IT FOR MANY YEARS.

IN WHAT POINT OF VIEW?

IN ONE SENSE I THOUGHT YOU WERE SPEAKING TO US, THE AUDIENCE.

YOU WANTED US TO GET INVOLVED.

BUT THERE IS A STORY BEHIND IT.

I WONDER IF YOU COULD SHARE IT WITH US.

I GOT A CALL ONE SUNDAY MORNING VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING FROM A FRIEND OF MINE CALLED WAVY GRAVY.

HE WAS COMEDIAN CALLED HUGH ROMNEY IN THE '50s.

HE CALLED AND SAID THESE KIDS WERE BEING ARRESTED AND COULD I RAISE MONEY FOR THEIR DEFENSE FUND?

I WANTED TO GO.

DAVID WANTED TO GO.

STEVEN AND NEIL WASN'T FREE BECAUSE IT HAPPENED VERY QUICKLY.

AND SO MY SONG OF CHICAGO IS ME SINGING TO STEVEN NEIL, CAN'T WE JUST GO TO CHICAGO, JUST TO SING?

BUT I'M ALSO TALKING TO YOU, BECAUSE THAT'S THE ART OF A SONGWRITER.

BY THE WAY YOU GOING TO BE PLAYING SONGS BEYOND THE SONGS FROM THESE TWO ALBUMS IN THE TOUR?

IF I'M DOING WHAT I'M DOING, SONGS FOR BEGINNERS FIRST AND INTERMISSION AND THEN WILD TALES, WILD TALES IS A VERY SLOW SONG CALLED A SLEEP SONG.

I KNOW I'M GOING HAVE TO COME BACK AND DO A COUPLE OF ENCORES.

I HAVEN'T QUITE FIGURED OUT WHAT THEY WILL BE.

BUT I HAVE TO DO A COUPLE OF SONGS AFTER THAT, YES.

FINALLY, WHAT DO YOU HOPE THAT AUDIENCES THAT GO TO THESE PERFORMANCES, THEY TAKE AKAY WITH THEM?

I HOPE THEY TAKE AWAY THE FACT THAT I WANTED TO BE THERE.

I WANT THEM TO TAKE WAY THE FACT THAT ARTISTS HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE.

THAT'S HOW MUSICAL HISTORY IS MADE, YOU KNOW.

WHEN BILLY HOLIDAY WAS DOING STRANGE FRUIT, SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE TIME IN WHICH SHE LIVED.

OUR SONGS ARE ABOUT THE TIMING WHICH WE LIVE.

IT'S QUITE INTERESTING AND IRONIC TO ME THAT SOMETHING LIKE IMMIGRATION THEN IS STILL AS RELEVANT TODAY AS IT WAS WHEN I WROTE IT 50 YEARS AGO?

MILITARY MADNESS.

THERE ARE MORE WARS GOING ON NOW THAN THERE WAS WHEN I WROTE THAT SONG, WHICH I WROTE ABOUT MY FATHER GOING OFF TO WORLD WAR II.

SO, YES.

I'M GLAD THAT MY MUSIC LASTED THIS LONG.

SOMETIMES IT'S A PAIN IN THE BUT TO HAVE TO SING THEM.

WELL, GRAHAM, AS ALWAYS, IT'S BEEN AN HONOR TO TALK TO YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

YOU'RE VERY WELCOME.

THANK YOU.

♪ ♪ THOSE DANCING FEET, WHERE THE UNDERWORLD CONVENIENTLY 42nd STREET ♪

> MORE THAN THREE DECADES AGO, 42nd STREET WAS A JUNGLE OF URBAN DECAY.

HOMELESS AND OPEN AIR DRUG DEALERS HELD DOMINION ON WHAT WAS ONCE THE PLACE WHERE THE UNDERWORLD COULD MEET THE ELITE.

BUT THEN IN THE 1990s, THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY, KNOWN FOR ITS MAGIC ON SCREEN AND ITS INTERNATIONAL THEME PARKS REFURBISHED ONE OF 42nd STREET'S PREMIER DETERIORATING THEATERS, THE NEW AMSTERDAM, THE FORMER PALACE OF FLO ZIGFIELD AND HIS FOLLIES.

IT ANCHORED THE STREETS AND DISNEY BECAME THE NEW IMPRESARIO OF BROADWAY WITH THE SUCCESS OF 'THE LION KING' WHICH OPEN THERE IN 1997, STILL GOING STRONG IN ITS 22nd YEAR.

AND AS DISNEY THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS APPROACHES ITS 25th ANNIVERSARY, PRESENTING STAGE ADAPTATIONS FROM 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' TO 'THE LITTLE MERMAID' ALONG WITH 'ALADDIN' AND 'FROZEN' AND 'LION KING,' IT'S CLEAR THAT THE MOUSE AND THE HOUSE THAT WALT BUILT HAS A LEGACY.

JOINING ME NOW, THOMAS SCHUMACHER.

PRESIDENT OF THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS.

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU.

THANK YOU.

I WANT TO START WITH DISNEY THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS.

HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

THERE ARE MANY ORIGIN STORIES.

THIS IS MY VERSION OF HOW IT HAPPENED.

WHEN DISNEY ANIMATION WAS COMING BACK IN ITS RESURGENCE, ALAN MENKIN AND HOWARD ASHMAN WERE GOING TO CHANGE THE FACE WITH 'LITTLE MERMAID' AND 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.'

'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' CAUGHT ON SO MUCH, FRANK RICH, THE LEGENDARY 'NEW YORK TIMES' KRIT SICK ON THE RADIO SAID THE BEST SCORE THAT YEAR WAS THE ANIMATED FILM 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.'

AND IT RAISED THE VISIBILITY OF 'BEAUTY.'

AT THE SAME TIME THE PARKS THAT DISNEY BUILT ALWAYS HAD LIVE ENTERTAINMENT.

SO A YOUNG GUY, ROBERT ROTH WAS DOING A SHOW IN THE PARK OF 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.'

AND HE WENT TO OUR THEN CHAIRMAN MICHAEL EISNER AND SAID WHAT IF WE DID 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' ON BROADWAY, A PROPER BROADWAY SHOW OF A CLASSIC MUSICAL.

IT WAS KIND OF A ONE-OFF.

THEY MOUNTED 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' AND PUT IT IN THE PALACE THEATER.

AND THAT GAVE RISE TO THIS IDEA MAYBE WE COULD BE ON BROADWAY.

AT THE SAME TIME MICHAEL EISNER HAD BEEN SNIFFING AROUND, COULD WE BUY A THEATER?

AND COULD WE BE PART OF THE TIMES SQUARE REDEVELOPMENT?

THAT WAS LED BY BOB STERN, LEGENDARY ARCHITECT.

HE WAS ON THE DISNEY BOARD.

AND HE GOT MICHAEL INVOLVED IN 42nd STREET REDEVELOPMENT.

HE WE THEN MADE A COMMITMENT TO THE NEW AMSTERDAM THEATER.

THE NEW AM THEATER BECOMES THIS ICON OF WHAT IS DISNEY THEATRICAL.

I GUESS THE QUESTION, DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT WAS GOING TO FLOW FROM THAT?

IN FAIRNESS, TODAY EVERYONE WOULD LIKE TO TELL YOU THERE WAS A REALLY STRATEGIC DEVELOPED PLAN DEVELOPED AROUND A BIG BLACK MARBLE TABLE WITH A BUNCH OF GUYS IN SUITS.

THE TRUTH IS MICHAEL EISNER GREW UP IN NEW YORK AND THOUGHT WELL, THIS COULD BE A GOOD THING FOR US TO DO.

AND WE MADE THE COMMITMENT TO DO IT WITH A LOT OF THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO DO IT.

AND PETER SNYDER, MY THEN BUSINESS PARTNER AND VIRTUAL SIBLING AT ANIMATION, WE WERE THE ONLY THEATER GUYS WORKING INSIDE THE STUDIO.

SO MICHAEL SAID WHY DON'T YOU GUY.

YOU WERE THE SPIRIT, WE BECAME THE GUYS WHO WERE TOLD TURN 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' AND THE REST OF THIS INTO A BUSINESS.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE GLORY THAT WAS THE NEW AMSTERDAM THEATER.

ONLY THE SECOND THEATER ON BROADWAY TO HAVE ELECTRICITY, BIG DEAL.

BECAUSE EVERYONE THINKS OF THAT THEATER, MOST PEOPLE WOULD BECAUSE OF BARBRA STREISAND'S ON STAGE AND ON FILM.

THE THEATER COULDN'T HAVE BEEN USED AS A BACKDROP THEN BECAUSE BY THAT TIME IT WAS ALREADY TOTALLY DILAPIDATED.

IT NEVER DID SHOW PORNOGRAPHY, IT'S ALWAYS SAID THERE IS PORNOGRAPHY INSIDE THAT THEATER.

NEVER WAS.

IT BECAME KIND OF A FUNG IF YOU PALACE.

RIGHT NEXT DOOR THEY DID SHOW PORN, BUT IT WASN'T HAPPENING AT THE NEW AMSTERDAM.

IT HAD FALLEN INTO SUCH REPAIR THERE WAS MUSHROOMS AND TREES AND FLOODS ALL INSIDE THE THEATER.

A MASSIVE RODENT INFESTATION.

PLASTER FALLING OFF THE WALLS.

MOST OF THE DETAIL WHICH YOU AND I COULD WALK AROUND AND LOOK AT, OH, MY GOSH, WE HAVE THIS ONE BOX WE HAD.

WE USE IT AS A MOLD TO REPRODUCE ALL THE BOXES, TO RECONSTRUCT FROM PHOTOGRAPHS FANTASTIC GENUINE, GENUINE ART RESTORATION HAPPENED IN THERE.

IT'S ASTONISHING.

AND YOU TALK ABOUT THE TRANSFORMATION.

AND CERTAINLY WHAT YOUR GROUP HAS DONE AND THE SUCCESS.

REALLY UNRIVALED SUCCESS.

YOU LOOK AT THE SUCCESS PERCENTAGES OF THE PRODUCTIONS THERE AS OPPOSED TO THE REGULAR ONES THAT'S ASTONISHINGLY DIFFERENT.

YES, WE HAVE BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL ON STAGE.

WE'VE HAD OUR FAILURES, THINGS THAT DON'T WORK, OR AT LEAST INITIAL FAILURES OF THINGS THAT WENT ON TO BECOME PROFITABLE.

BUT DON'T FORGET, THAT'S BECAUSE WE'RE STANDING ON THE SHOULDER OF GREATNESS.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE SONGWRITING THAT REALLY BEGAN AT DISNEY WHEN THE BROADWAY MODEL CAME TO ANIMATION.

PRIOR TO, THAT WALT'S FILMS WERE MUSICAL FILMS.

THINK OF 'LADY AND THE TRAMP.'

THE FILM HAPPENS, NEITHER LADY NOR TRAMP SING IN THE WHOLE THING.

IF THE SONGS ARE AGAINST THE ACTION, THEY DON'T DRIVE THE ACTION.

THEY'RE PERPETRATED AROUND.

BUT HOWARD ASHMAN AND ALLEN MENKEN SAID WHAT IF THE SONGS TURN THE CORNER OF THE STORY?

WE HAD AN AMAZING COLLECTION OF MOVIES, THINGS LIKE 'LITTLE MERMAID' AND 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' AND 'THE LION KING' WHICH THEY DIDN'T WRITE, BUT 'THE LION KING' BECOMES BIG AND OF COURSE 'ALADDIN' AND 'POCAHANTAS.'

WE RAISED A GENERATION OR TWO TO LOVE THIS MUSICAL FORM.

AT THE SAME TIME, THEY LEARNED THE SONGS.

WE DID NOT TURN MOVIES INTO MUSICAL MUSICALS.

WE TOOK MUSICALS AND EXPANDED THEM FOR THE STAGE.

WE TOOK THE MUSICAL YOU KNEW, 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' FILLING IT OUT WITH MORE MUSIC.

WHEN YOU SAT DOWN TO 'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST' THE VERY FIST TIME IN SPRING OF 1994, WHEN BELLE STEPS OUT OF HER HOUSE, AND YOU HEAR THAT LITTLE RIFF AND SHE SINGS 'LITTLE TOWN, IT'S A QUIET VILLAGE' YOUR HEART SOARS BECAUSE YOU GREW UP WITH BELLE.

YOU KNOW BELLE.

♪ LITTLE TOWN, IT'S A QUIET VILLAGE ♪ .

AT THE OPENING OF 'THE LION KING' WHEN RAFIKI STEPS OU OUT -- ♪ AND CALLS OUT TO THIS CONVOCATION TO COME TOGETHER.

THAT RITUAL IS BUILT ON A PIECE OF MUSIC WRITTEN BY LEVEL M, TIM RYAN, ELTON JOHN.

YOU'RE IN LOVE WITH IT.

I REMEMBER SITTING THERE WITH MY WIFE AND OUR CHILDREN, WHO ARE NOW ADULTS WHO ARE GOING BACK TO SEE SOME OF THESE SHOWS.

THESE ARE NOT CHILDREN SHOWS.

THE MAJORITY OF ATTENDEES ARE ADULTS.

CHILDREN ARE THERE WITH THEM.

MY WIFE AND I ON ONE OF OUR BEST BROADWAY EXPERIENCES EVER WITH OUR CHILDREN AT NIGHT.

I THINK THERE IS A JOY TO BEING ABLE TO HAVE A SHOW THAT PLAYS FOR THE BROADEST POSSIBLE AUDIENCE.

AND, YOU KNOW, WHEN WHICH DID MARY POPPINS, IT WAS A AS RESONANT.

MAY NEVER HAVE SEEN THE JULIE ANDREWS MOVEMENT.

AND ALL THE INTIMACY OF THE THEATER.

IT'S SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT.

YOU AND I COULD TALK FOR HOURS ABOUT THIS.

HOPEFULLY WE'LL GET YOU BACK AGAIN.

BUT CONGRATULATIONS.

25 MARVELOUS YEARS.

GREAT SUCCESS, GREAT TRANSFORMATIONAL SUCCESS AND BRINGING JOY AND WARMTH AND HUMOR AND GREAT EXPERIENCES TO A LOT OF PEOPLE.

THANKS FOR SPENDING SOME TIME.

WE'LL TALK SOON.

THANKS A LOT.

ALL RIGHT, BE WELL.

A REMINDER, YOU CAN SEE 'ALADDIN,' 'FROZEN' AND 'THE LION KING' ALL PLAYING ON BROADWAY.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT US AT METRO.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 -- ♪ THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

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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