METROFOCUS: OCTOBER 9, 2019

In 1989, a black teen, Yusuf Hawkins, was fatally shot after being chased by a white mob in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Now, an enterprising journalist returns to the scene to find a community changed and memories fading. New Yorkers’ homes are being robbed from under their feet as a result of predatory deed theft. Tonight, we’ll tell you what that means and how victims are fighting back. Disney’s live-action remake of the Lion King broke a number of box office records. Tonight, we meet the pride on Broadway, which has been receiving roaring ovations for over 20 years.

Aired on October 9, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS' -- 30 YEARS AGO A BLACK TEEN, YUSEF HAWKINS, WAS FATALLY SHOT AFTER BEING CHASED BY A WHITE MOB IN BENSONHURST, BROOKLYN.

THE MURDER DIVIDED THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND POLARIZED THE CITY.

NOW AN ENTERPRISING JOURNALIST RETURNS TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME TO FIND THE COMMUNITY CHANGED AND MEMORIES FADING.

THIS SPECIAL REPORT JUST MOMENTS AWAY.

> NEW YORKERS ARE LOSING THEIR HOMES AS A RESULT OF PREDATORY THEFT.

WE'LL TELL YOU WHAT IT MEANS AND HOW ITS VICTIMS ARE FIGHTING BACK.

AN IMPORTANT LESSON FOR ALL OF US.

> AND DISNEY'S RECENT LIVE-ACTION REMAKE OF 'THE LION KING' BROKE BOX OFFICE RECORDS.

TONIGHT WE MEET THE PRIDE ON BROADWAY WHICH HAS BEEN ROARING TO STANDING OVATIONS FOR OVER 20 YEARS.

TWO OF THE SHOW'S STARS WILL BE HERE.

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

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANNIGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHAIM III, SYLVIA A.

AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, AND BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

BENSO BENSONHURST, BROOKLYN, 1989.

FOR MANY IT CONJURES MEMORIES OF ONE OF THE MOST PAINFUL RACIAL INCIDENTS IN NEW YORK CITY'S HISTORY.

THE KILLING OF 16-YEAR-OLD YUSEF HAWKINS.

HAWKINS, A BLACK TEEN, WAS SET UPON BY A WHITE MOB AND FATALLY SHOT.

HIS COLD-BLOODED MURDER HORRIFIED THE CITY AND THE COUNTRY, SETTING OFF MONTHS OF PROTEST MARCHES AND PAYCHECKING THE WAY FOR THE ELECTION OF NEW YORK'S FIRST BLACK MAYOR, DAVID DINKINS.

THE NAME BENSONHURST BECAUSE A NATIONAL SYMBOL OF HATE.

IN THE 30 YEARS SINCE HAWKINS' DEATH, THE ONCE-HEAVILY ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD HAS DIVERSIFIED.

SEEKING TO FIND OUT HOW THE TRAGEDY IS REMEMBERED, THE NEWS OUTLET 'THE CITY' TRAVELED TO INVESTIGATE.

AND WE HAVE MORE ON THE FININGS.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

LET'S SET THE STAGE FOR OUR VIEWERS.

30 YEARS AGO, I REMEMBER, I WAS JUST STARTING IN TELEVISION NEWS.

AS A MATTER OF FACT, I WAS WORKING AS A LEGAL ANALYST FOR CHANNEL 2 NEWS HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

SO I REMEMBER THE STORY.

BUT JUST THE -- GIVE US A SENSE OF HOW THIS PLAYED OUT AS A BACKDROP TO YOUR INVESTIGATION AND OUR CONVERSATION.

YEAH.

SO ON AUGUST 23rd, 1989, YUSEF HAWKINS AND THREE OF HIS BUDDIES GOT OFF THE N TRAIN ON 20th AVENUE.

HE WAS LOOKING TO BUY A USED POINTS IN 82 PONTIAC -- USED 1982 PONTIAC.

HE WAS ENGULFED, SURROUNDED BY WHITE TEENAGERS WHO SEVERAL OF THEM WERE -- HAD BASEBALL BATS, GOLF CLUBS, AND JUST WITHIN A FEW BLOCKS THEY HAD SURROUNDED HIM.

AND A GUNMAN, THE GUNMAN, JOSEPH FAMMA, SHOT HIM TWICE IN THE CHEST.

TALK ABOUT WHAT THE BENSONHURST NEIGHBORHOOD WAS LIKE THEN.

ITS COMPLEXION, IF YOU WILL, ITS COMPOSITION 30 YEARS AGO.

SO IT WAS A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE, WORKING CLASS, ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD.

PI PIZZERIAS EVERYWHERE, A MAJORITY HOMEOWNER NEIGHBORHOOD, AS WELL.

THE COMPLEXION OF THAT NEIGHBORHOOD HAS CHANGED INTENSELY SINCE THEN.

BUT BACK THEN, YOU KNOW, ONLY THREE DAYS AFTER THE SHOOTING, YOU KNOW, BLACK ORGANIZERS GOT TOGETHER AND IMMEDIATELY WERE OFFSET BY PEOPLE YELLING RACIAL EPITHETS AT THEM, SOME OF THEM HOLDING --

EVEN AFTER THE SHOOTING, STILL BEING ATTACKED RACIALLY?

YEAH.

SOME PEOPLE ACTUALLY HOLDING WA WATERMELONS BELIEVE IT OR NOT AS A FORM OF RIDICULE AT THE TIME.

AND IT SHARPLY DIVIDED THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

WHAT WERE YOU LOOKING FOR?

WHEN THE DECISION WAS MADE -- LET'S TAKE A LOOK, LET'S GO BACK 30 YEARS, BACK TO BENSONHURST.

WHAT WAS THE IDEA?

I WANTED TO SEE WHAT THE NEIGHBORHOOD REMEMBERED.

AND HONESTLY, WHAT I FOUND WAS A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT HAS DEEPLY CHANGED.

THERE ARE STILL REMNANTS OF THAT OLD NEIGHBORHOOD, BUT NOW WE'RE LOOKING AT A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT'S 55% OF THE POPULATION IS FOREIGN BORN.

SO MANY OF THEM ARE FROM CHINA, TURKEY, PAKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN.

AND YOU SEE THESE OLD-SCHOOL PIZZERIAS, THEY'RE STILL THERE AND ALL THESE ITALIAN EAT REECE.

ACROSS THE STREET YOU'LL SEE A HUGE CHINESE BUFFET, A HUGE TURKISH EATERY AT THE SAME TIME.

AND NOW IT'S ACTUALLY MINORITY/MAJORITY IN THE SENSE WHERE IT'S -- I BELIEVE IT'S ONLY 44% ARE WHITE.

WHEN YOU ASK PEOPLE, THIS IS GENERAL OBVIOUSLY, BUT WHEN YOU ASKED ABOUT THE HAWKINS SHOOTING, HOW MANY DID YOU FINDS ACTUALLY REMEMBERED IT?

WERE AWARE OF IT AT ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM?

I MEAN, DOZENS.

DOZENS, TRULY.

ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO WERE HOMEOWNERS AND STILL HAVE THEIR HOMES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

THEY DID REMEMBER THE SHOOTING, AND THEY DID REMEMBER IN PARTICULAR THE MARCHES THAT WERE ORGANIZED BY REVEREND AL SHARPTON BACK THEN.

BUT WHEN I TALKED TO SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO MOVED MORE RECENTLY, THE MEMORY IS STARTING TO FADE A BIT.

WE'RE TALKING 30 YEARS LATER, I TALKED TO ONE INDIVIDUAL WHO WAS SHOCKED THAT THAT COULD HAPPEN --

I WANTED TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT.

I NOTED THAT, THAT SOMEONE WAS ESSENTIALLY SAYING TO YOU, REALLY?

HERE?

I NEVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED --

YEAH.

YEAH.

I MEAN, THE DNA OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IS MUCH THE SAME.

IT'S SOMEWHERE -- A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE WANT TO RAISE THEIR FAMILIES.

WHEN I TALKED TO A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO MOVED THERE, THE ONE INDIVIDUAL, MUHAMMAD FROM SYRIA, HE WAS ABSOLUTELY RATTLED.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT AN INCIDENT THAT ABSOLUTELY SHAPED A NEIGHBORHOOD, DEFINED A NEIGHBORHOOD FOR IT.

AND IT HAS VERY MUCH CHANGED SINCE THEN.

AND I THINK WHEN PEOPLE WHO HAVE MORE RECENTLY IN RECENT YEARS MOVED TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD, THEY'RE JUST SURPRISED THAT SOMETHING LIKE THAT COULD HAPPEN.

SO IT WAS -- WAS YOUR SENSE AFTER SPENDING TIME THERE, GOING BACK TO THE RACIAL ANIMUS THAT EXISTED IN 1989, DID YOU FINDS ANY SEMBLANCE OF THAT AT ALL?

THERE WERE A COUPLE OF PEOPLE I SPOKE TO WHO FELT THAT THE MARCHES PAINTED THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD IN A BAD LIGHT AND REALLY PUSHED BACK ON THE SENTIMENT THAT IT WAS A RACIAL INCIDENT ACTUALLY.

AND THAT IT WAS A RACIST ATTACK.

AND THEY FELT MORE THAT THESE WERE YOUNG TEENAGERS WHO GOT INTO A FIGHT.

AND THAT WAS ALL TO IT.

OF COURSE, THAT'S NOT WHAT EVERYONE SAID.

I TALKED TO ONE FAMILY WHO ACTUALLY, THEY LIVED ON 20th AVENUE WHERE THE SHOOTING OCCURRED, AND THEY LEFT.

THEY ACTUALLY SOLD THEIR HOME.

SO AFFECTED BY IT.

YEAH.

YEAH.

YOU MENTIONED THE -- THE TWO YOUNG MEN WHO WERE CONVICTED OF THIS.

THERE'S AN INTERESTING PART OF THE STORY WHERE YOU TALK ABOUT KEITH MONDELLA, CONVICTED OF LESSER OFFENSES, NOT THE SECOND-DEGREE MURDER.

HE'S STILL IN PRISON.

AND YOU TALK ABOUT A CONTACT BETWEEN KEITH MONDELLA AND A FAMILY MEMBER OFU YUSEF HAWKINS.

TELL ME ABOUT THAT.

MOZAMSES HAWKINS, HIS FATHER SENT A LETTER TO THE FAMILY.

RY RECONCILED WITH THE FATHER IN LATE 1998, AND THEY ACTUALLY GOT TOGETHER, AND HE APOLOGIZED, AND THE FATHER ACCEPTED THE APOLOGY.

IT'S A DIFFERENT STORY WHEN IT COMES TO THE MOTHER.

BUT YEAH, THEY DID RECONCILE BEFORE THE FATHER PASSED AWAY.

WHEN YOU SAY A DIFFERENT STORY WITH REGARD TO THE MOTHER, HOW?

SHE HAS BEEN QUOTED OVER AND OVER IN THE ANNIVERSARIES SAYING THAT THIS IS A WOUND THAT WILL NEVER HEAL IN HER HEART.

SOMETHING THAT SHE'S GOING TO TAKE TO THE GRAVE, AND THAT SHE ACKNOWLEDGES THE APOLOGIES, SHE DOES NOT ACCEPT THEM.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

YOU TALK ABOUT MOTHER, OF COURSE, REMEMBERING THE DEATH OF HER SON.

WE TALKED ABOUT HOW MUCH COVERAGE THIS GOT AT THE TIME.

IT'S INTERESTING I THINK TO SEE HOW MUCH YUSEF HAWKINS' MEMORY IS STILL INGRAINED ESPECIALLY IN SOME LEVELS OF POP CULTURE.

YEAH.

IT JUST -- HOW IS HE -- HE HAS HE BEEN REMEMBERED?

HOW HAS HIS MEMORY BEEN KEPT ALIVE IN MANY WAYS, THROUGH VARIOUS POP CULTURE MEANS?

YEAH.

I THINK YOU CAN DEFINITELY POINT TO SPIKE LEE'S FILM AS ONE EXAMPLE.

'DO THE RIGHT THING.'

WHEN YOU LOOK AT A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT REMINDS YOU A LOT OF BENSONHURST AND COMMUNITIES CLASHING AND RACIAL TENSIONS TRULY COMING TO A BOIL, ALSO I THINK IN FOLLOWING YEARS YOU SAY HIS NAME LITTERED OVER HIP-HOP TRACKS EVERYWHERE.

IT WAS SOMETHING THAT HAD REALLY SHOOK THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

WELL, IT -- IT'S A VERY INTERESTING LOOK BACK.

YEAH.

AT WHAT -- A DIFFICULT TIME AND PLACE AND HOW IT'S CHANGED IN THE PERIOD OF THE THREE DECADES.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

YEAH.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR INVITING ME.

THANK YOU.

> THEFT IN NEW YORK CITY IS RAMPANT ACCORDING TO A RECENT GRAND JURY REPORT RELEASED BY MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY CY VANCE WHICH FOUND THAT AS THE VALUE OF REAL ESTATE IN THE CITY HAS SURGED, SO HAS THE INCIDENTS OF VULNERABLE NEW YORKERS BEING SCAMMED OUT OF THEIR PROPERTY.

ACCORDING TO THE REPORT, FRAUDSTERS OFTEN CONVINCE THEIR VICTIMS TO ACTUALLY SIGN OVER THE DEED TO THEIR HOME AND, IN SOME CASES, THEY SIMPLY FORGE THE NAME OF RECENTLY DECEASED HOMEOWNERS TO TAKE POSSESSIONS OF THEIR PROPERTY.

THEREBY STEALING WEALTH THAT HAD BEEN ACCUMULATED FOR GENERATIONS, OFTEN WITH LITTLE OR NO RECOURSE.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THIS URGENT PROBLEM AND WHAT IF ANYTHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT IS KRISTI PEEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR NYC NEIGHBORHOODS, A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT PROMOTES AND PROTECTS AFFORDABLE HOMEOWNERSHIP.

KRISTI, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

THANK YOU FOR FOCUSING ON THIS REALLY IMPORTANT ISSUE.

IT'S AN IMPORTANT ISSUE.

YEAH.

FIRST OF ALL, WHO IS BEING TARGETED IN THIS HEINOUS CRIME?

WELL, THROUGHOUT NEW YORK CITY'S NEIGHBORHOODS, THERE ARE PROBABLY AROUND 300,000 PROPERTY OWNERS WHO WE WOULD CONSIDER OF MODEST MEANS, RIGHT.

THEY'RE WORKING CLASS FAMILIES WHO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BUY AND KEEP PROPERTIES FOR MANY DECADES AND GENERATIONS.

AND AT TIMES, THE OWNER, THE VULNERABLE FINANCIALLY OR FOR OTHER REASONS, AND PEOPLE, SCAMMERS, YOU KNOW, FRAUDSTERS, THEY'RE A LOT OF PREDATORY ACTORS OUT THERE TO TRY AND TAKE PROPERTIES FROM UNSUSPECTING NEW YORK CITY OWNERS.

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS IT THAT'S BEING DONE?

HOW ARE THEY TAKING THESE PROPERTIES FROM THESE VULNERABLE NEW YORKERS?

THERE ARE A COUPLE OF WAYS IT CAN HAPPEN.

WHAT WE'VE SEEN AT THE CENTER FOR NEW YORK CITY NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE WE'VE BEEN WORKING TO PREVENT FORECLOSURES SINCE 2008, A LOT OF TIMES A HOMEOWNER WILL BE STRUGGLING ON A MORTGAGE PAYMENT OR PROPERTY TAX PAYMENT, AND THE PUBLIC RECORDS WILL SHOW THIS, RIGHT.

AND NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE THE PROPERTY VALUES HAVE BEEN INCREASING, THERE ARE SCAMMERS OUT THERE THAT ARE, YOU KNOW, WALKING THE BLOCK, CALLING PEOPLE DAILY, PUTTING FLYERS IN THEIR MAILBOXES TO TRY AND GET THEM TO EITHER PAY THEM FOR HELP, TO GET THE MORTGAGE CURRENT, OR TO, YOU KNOW, SELL THEM THEIR PROPERTY FOR A BELOW-MARKET VALUE.

THEY'RE REALLY TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF, YOU KNOW, VULNERABLE, TRUSTING, UNSUSPECTING PROPERTY OWNERS, SOME WHO MIGHT BE IN SOME FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY.

SO FOR EXAMPLE, WITH THE MORTGAGE SCAM ISSUE, IF YOU'RE TRYING TO KEEP YOUR HOME FROM FALLING INTO FORECLOSURE, SOMEBODY MIGHT SAY PAY ME SOME MONEY, I'LL SAVE YOUR HOME FOR YOU.

AND BY THE WAY -- THAT'S SOMETHING YOU SHOULD NEVER BELIEVE, RIGHT.

IF SOMEBODY SAYS PAY ME AND I'LL SAVE YOUR HOME, THAT'S A REALLY BIG RED FLAG.

RIGHT.

AND IN FACT, IT'S ILLEGAL FOR SOMEBODY TO TAKE MONEY AND PROMISE YOU MORTGAGE MODIFICATIONS UNLESS THEY'RE AN ATTORNEY.

AND WE'VE SEEN CASES WHERE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN GIVEN A RAFT OF PAPERS AND SAID SIGN HERE, SIGN HERE, SIGN HERE, OR SIGN THIS BLANK PIECE OF PAPER --

YOU LITERALLY SEEN THESE CASES --

YEAH.

SOMEBODY SIGNS THE PAPER THINKING THEY'RE GETTING HELP TO SAVE THEIR HOME WHEN THEY'RE SIGNING OVER THEIR DEED TO THIS FRAUDSTER.

AND THEN ONCE THEY HAVE THAT DOCUMENT SAYING THEY OWN THE PROPERTY, THEY'LL MORTGAGE IT, SELL IT, YOU KNOW, THEY'LL RENT IT OUT, DO ALL SORTS OF THINGS.

AND, YOU KNOW, IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO GET THE PROPERTY BACK.

THE NEW THING THAT'S BEEN HIGHLIGHTED IN THE GRAND JURY REPORT TALKS ABOUT FRAUDULENT DOCUMENTS BEING RECORDED WITH THE CITY OF NEW YORK, AND OFTEN FOR PROPERTIES WHERE THE DEPARTMENT OWNER SEEMS TO HAVE PASSED AWAY OR ABANDONED THE PROPERTY, THE FRAUDSTERS IDENTIFIED IT AS A PROPERTY WHERE THERE'S NOBODY AT HOME, SO TO SPEAK.

AND THEY'LL --

JUST FAKED THE SIGNATURE --

THEY'LL CREATE A FORGED DOCUMENT, AND OFTEN THEY USE A NOTARY TO DO SO.

SO THEY'LL FORGE THE SIGNATURE OF THE REAL PROPERTY OWNER AND RECORD IT WITH THE CITY.

AND BASED ON THAT DOCUMENT, THEN THEY'LL GO OUT AND, AGAIN, EITHER SELL IT TO SOMEBODY ELSE OR, YOU KNOW, TAKE OUT FINANCING, YOU KNOW, DO WHAT THEY WILL.

AND AGAIN, AT THAT POINTS, IT'S REALLY, REALLY HARD.

WE'LL GET TO THAT WHAT CAN BE DONE, IN OTHER STATES WHERE PEOPLE ARE BEING SCAMMED OUT OF THEIR HOMES --

YEP --

IT SOMETIMES HAPPENS THAT CITY EMPLOYEES WITH INSIDE INFORMATION ARE COLLABORATING WITH THE FRAUDSTERS, GIVING THEM POTENTIAL TARGETS, FROR EXAMPLE HOMEOWNERS IN ARREARS IN PROPERTY TAXES.

IS THERE EVIDENCE THAT'S HAPPENING HERE?

NOT THAT WE'VE SEEN.

IN NEW YORK IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE THE SHERIFF ACTUALLY WORKS OUT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE.

AND SO WE HAVEN'T HEARD OF ANY INSTANCES WHERE THERE'S SOMEBODY AT THE PROPERTY RECORDING OFFICE THAT'S DOING THIS.

BUT IT'S -- THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE HAS PUT SOMETHING INTO PLACE WHERE THEY -- IF YOU SIGN UP FOR A NOTIFICATION SERVICE, THEY WILL ALERT YOU BY PHONE OR E-MAIL OR TEXT IF SOMEBODY IS FILING AN INSTRUMENT AGAINST YOUR PROPERTY.

BUT AGAIN, AT THAT POINT, IT'S KIND OF TOO LATE.

RIGHT.

IF THE CITY ACCEPTS THAT FRAUDULENT DOCUMENT.

SO THE D.A.'S REPORT CALLS THIS A GROWING EPIDEMIC.

YEAH.

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN GOING ON?

WHEN DID IT BECOME AN EPIDEMIC?

YEAH.

WE'VE SEEN ISSUES WITH DEED THEFT AND PROPERTY THEFT GOING BACK ON TO THE EARLY 2000s WHEN THERE WAS THE FIRST PROPERTY BUBBLE AND THERE WERE A LOT OF FRAUDS USING STRAW BUYERS.

MORE ON THE PURCHASE SIDE LEADING UP TO THE MORTGAGE CRISIS.

SO I WOULD JUST SAY THAT WE'VE ALWAYS SEEN THIS KIND OF SCUMMY ACTIVITY IN NEW YORK CITY REAL ESTATE, BUT I THINK WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW IS THAT THE PROPERTY VALUES HAVE REALLY INCREASED, THE AGE OF THE NEW YORK CITY HOMEOWNER IS GOING UP, SO WE'RE -- WE'RE ALL AGING.

THE POPULATION AND A LOT OF FOLKS ARE AGING IS PLACE, SO THERE ARE MORE OLDER HOMEOWNERS WHO MAY BE MORE VULNERABLE.

A LOT OF TARGETS.

YEAH.

SO THE GRAND JURY REPORT HAS SOME RECOMMENDATIONS.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE KEY RECOMMENDATIONS?

THE RECOMMENDATIONS REALLY FOCUS ON PREVENTION, DETECTING, AND RESTORING PROPERTIES, AS WELL AS EASING PROSECUTION.

THE PREVENTION COME IS A REALLY HELPFUL FOCUS OF THE REPORT TALKS ABOUT CREATING RESOURCES FOR GROUPS LIKE THE CENTER AND OUR NETWORK PARTNERS TO COUNSEL AND DO OUTREACH TO HOMEOWNERS TO MAKE SURE THEY KNOW THIS IS AN ISSUE.

SO AS WITH A LOT OF ISSUES AROUND HOMEOWNERSHIP, YOU KNOW, EDUCATION UP FRONT IS SO IMPORTANT.

SO THE -- THE COMMUNITY OUTREACH WAS A PRIMARY RECOMMENDATION, AND OBVIOUSLY WE SUPPORT THAT.

IN THIS CASE, AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION REALLY DOES PAY OFF BECAUSE IT'S RELATIVELY CHEAP TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC, AND IT'S MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE TO TRY TO GET A PROPERTY BACK OR PROSECUTE.

ALL THESE THINGS PREVENT THE FRAUDSTER -- WHAT HAPPENS TO SOMEBODY WHO'S ALREADY BEEN DEFRAUDED?

DO THEY HAVE ANY -- ANY WAY TO GET THEIR PROPERTY BACK?

RIGHT NOW, YOU -- SOMEBODY WHO SUSPECTS THEY'RE A VICTIM OF THIS SHOULD ABSOLUTELY REACH OUT TO THE CENTER.

WE HAVE A WEBSITE CALLED HOMEHOMEOWNER HELPNY.COM.

WE HAVE TIPS, WE HAVE PLACES WHERE YOU CAN GO TO FILE A COMPLAINT, YOU SHOULD REACH OUT TO YOUR COUNTY D.A., YOU SHOULD REACH OUT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE.

AND SO THERE'S -- THERE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTIONS TO BOTH PUT PEOPLE BEHIND BARS AND GET PROPERTIES BACK.

WHAT THE -- THE GRAND JURY REPORT RECOMMENDS IS THAT THOSE -- THE TOOLS THAT THE PROSECUTORS HAVE BE STRENGTHENED SO THEY CAN GO AFTER PEOPLE AND PUT THEM BEHIND BARS.

SO THEY MAKE IT A -- A MORE SERIOUS FELONY TO RECORD THESE FALSE DOCUMENTS.

YEAH.

SO RIGHT NOW, YOU KNOW, REACHING OUT FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

AND THERE IS FREE LEGAL HELP AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW.

A LOT OF THE FUNDING FOR THAT IS AT RISK AT THE STATE LEVEL RIGHT NOW.

SO WE'RE PUSHING REALLY HARD TO GET FUNDING FOR HOMEOWNER SERVICES PUT IN THE STATE BUDGET.

BUT WE HAVE SOME OF THE BEST LEGAL SERVICES PROVIDERS IN THE COUNTRY IN NEW YORK CITY WHO CAN HELP FOLKS TRY TO GET PROPERTY BACK.

IT'S DIFFICULT.

THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE.

THANKS VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US AND TALKING ABOUT IT.

A PLEASURE.

THANKS FOR FOCUSING ON IT.

♪ ♪

> SINCE ITS PREMIERE IN NOVEMBER OF 1997, 'THE LION KING' CONTINUES ITS REIGN AS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR STAGE MUSICALS IN THE WORLD HAVING BEEN SIGN BY MORE THAN 95 MILLION PEOPLE, WINNING AMONG MANY OTHERS SIX 1998 TONY AWARDS INCLUDING BEST MUSICAL.

HERE'S A LOOK.

♪ WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE JOINING US NOW LINDSEY WAY WHO HAS BEEN WITH 'THE LION KING' FOR ITS ENTIRE TWO-DECADE RING.

AND L. STEVEN TAILOR WHO PLAYS THE LION KING.

THERE'S SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT.

LET ME START WITH YOU.

WHEN YOU FIRST BECAME INVOLVED WITH THIS INTERESTING PROJECT, 'THE LION KING,' DID YOU HAVE ANY INCLINATION AT ALL TO HOW ENORMOUSLY SUCCESSFUL IT WAS GOING TO BE?

NO.

IN THE BEGINNING, NO.

YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU STARTED THE FEST, TRYING ON DIFFERENT COSTUMES, TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT IS IT GOING TO BE, YOU KNOW.

YOU'RE PUTTING ALL THESE HYENA COSTUMES, YOU'RE LEARNING HOW TO WALK, YOU KNOW, HOW TO MOVE WITH PUPPETS.

SO IT WAS REALLY HECTIC IN THE BEGINNING.

SO I DIDN'T KNOW HOW IT WAS GOING TO BE.

AND THEN WE WENT TO MINNEAPOLIS, WHEN WE GOT TO MINNEAPOLIS, THEY WERE DOING ALL THESE THINGS.

AND THEN PREVIEW STARTED.

AND THE FIRST DAY, THE OPENING OF THE PREVIEWS, YOU COULD FEEL IN THE AUDIENCE LIKE AS SOON AS WE STARTED COMING DOWN THE AISLE, THE AUDIENCE -- IT WAS LIKE AN OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCE.

SOMETIMES THEY WANT TO TOUCH YOU.

SOMETIMES THEY ARE CRYING.

I REMEMBER SEEING IT WITH MY CHILDREN.

AT THE TIME I THINK THEY WERE ABOUT 14 AND 10.

YEAH.

AND SITTING ON THE AISLE.

AND I WAS FASCINATED BY THE FACT THAT NOT ONLY WERE THE YOUNG CHILDREN REACHING OUT FOR YOU, THE ADULTS --

THE ADULTS, YEAH.

REACHING OUT.

SOMETIMES YOU SEE LIKE PEOPLE IN TEARS.

LIKE GROWN PEOPLE, LIKE OVERWHELMED AND JUST CRYING AND LAUGHING.

YOU KNOW, ALL -- EVERYTHING, THE EMOTIONS THAT ARE, YOU KNOW, WITHIN THEM.

STEVEN, FOR YOU, WE TALK ABOUT AN ICONIC PRODUCTION, AND YOU COME IN AND TAKE OVER AN ICONIC ROLE.

YEAH.

THE LION KING.

YEAH.

AS AN ACTOR, AS A PERFORMER, IS THAT -- I GUESS A BETTER QUESTION IS HOW DAUNTING WAS THAT FOR YOU?

MAN, IT'S VERY DAUNTING.

WHEN I CAME INTO THE SHOW, I WAS -- YOU KNOW, I WAS PRETTY YOUNG, SO I ALWAYS KIND OF FELT LIKE -- I WAS AN UNDERSTUDY IN THE ROLL TIME.

I ALWAYS FELT LIKE A KID PLAYING IN DADDY'S SHOES, YOU KNOW, PUTTING ON DADDY'S CLOTHES.

IT WASN'T UNTIL I STOPPED TRYING TO EMULATE WHAT JAMES EARL JONES DID AND WHAT SAM WRIGHT DID WITH THE PART AND KIND OF RELATE THE ROLE BACK TO MY OWN LIFE, YOU KNOW --

MAKE IT STEVEN'S --

YOU KNOW, LIKE WHO IS HE?

HE'S -- AT THE VERY HEART HE'S A FATHER.

AND SO -- SO AM I.

WHEN I MADE THAT KIND OF A CENTRAL FOCUS OF HOW I WAS GOING TO PORTRAY THE CHARACTER, THEN IT BECAME LESS DAUNTING.

BUT I MEAN, STILL, YOU KNOW, LIKE IN THE BACK OF MY MIND, I KNOW THAT PEOPLE ARE COMING WITH A CERTAIN EXPECTATION OF THIS PARTICULAR ROLE.

AND I TRIED TO LIVE UP TO THAT.

IT'S SUCH A MARVELOUSLY PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE.

YOU TALK ABOUT COMING DOWN THE AISLE.

AND I WANT TO ASK YOU -- THE HEADGEAR THAT YOU'RE WEARING, YOU'VE GOT TO DANCE AND SPRING AND DO ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU DO.

DID THAT TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO?

YEAH.

I MEAN IT DID.

BUT IT'S -- LIKE YOU LEARN TO -- OKAY, NUMBER ONE, IT'S NOT AS HEAVY AS IT LOOKS.

IT'S MADE TO LOOK LIKE A BIG PIECE OF OAK, YOU KNOW.

RIGHT.

LIKE AS MUFASA IS.

HE'S THIS --

THAT'S RIGHT --

YES.

WHAT JULIE TAYMAR DID WITH THE PUPPETS AND MASK, SHE WAS ABLE TO BRING TO WESTERN CULTURE WHAT MOST COUNTRIES AND MOST OTHER CULTURES ALREADY DO, THEY USE MASKS AND PUPPETS IN THEIR STORETELLING ALREADY.

SO SHE WAS ABLE TO TEACH US HOW TO USE THESE PUPPETS AND THESE MASKS TO TELL THE STORY.

AND YOU'RE FROM SOUTH AFRICA.

UH-HUH.

I'VE SEEN WHERE YOU HAD TALKED ABOUT -- YOU KNOW, SOME OF THE STYLING, THE MUSICAL STYLING.

IT'S SOMETHING THAT YOU WERE FAMILIAR WITH JUST AS A CHILD.

YES.

YEAH.

IN WHAT WAY?

WE GREW UP SINGING IN CHURCHES.

WE GREW UP SINGING IN SCHOOLS.

BUT WE DIDN'T GROW UP SINGING IN THEATERS, YOU KNOW.

SO ALREADY, EVEN WHEN DURING THE STRUGGLE WE USED TO JUST SING, YOU KNOW.

OUTSIDE OF -- IT'S KNOWN FOR OUR VOCALS, YOU KNOW.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT SOME OF THE APARTHEID STRUGGLES, YOU SEE THE SINGING --

IT'S ALWAYS SINGING --

SIMILAR TO LOOK AT THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES AND HOW MUSIC WAS SUCH A SIGNIFICANT PART --

YES.

SO 'LION KING,' I REMEMBER WHEN THEY FIRST SAID YOU GOT IT, YOU'RE GOING TO PERFORM.

I WAS SO EXCITED BECAUSE I KNOW I'M GOING TO SING SOUTH AFRICAN MUSIC, IT'S PART OF ME.

WHEN YOU SEE 'THE LION KING,' YOU HAVE MAYBE SIX OR EIGHT SOUTH AFRICANS NOW IN THE SHOW.

SO I HAD THAT, I HAVE THESE PEOPLE I CAN SHARE WITH, THEY ARE FROM SOUTH AFRICA.

AND THEN WE'RE SINGING THE SAME STYLE OF MUSIC WHICH IS EXCITING.

YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU START INCLUDING PEOPLE FROM HERE, AMERICANS, WHEN THEY START LEARNING AND THEY ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR CULTURE AND OUR MUSIC, HOW EVERYTHING SOUNDS, HOW TO PRONOUNCE WORDS SO IT MAKES IT EXCITING.

IT CREATES AN AWARENESS OF OTHERS.

OF OTHERS, YES.

LAST QUESTION FOR BOTH OF YOU.

YOU KNOW, EVEN THE MOST SUCCESSFUL BROADWAY SHOWS USUALLY HAVE A SHELF LIFE, IF YOU WILL -- I DON'T MEAN THAT TO BE DEMEANING AT ALL.

BUT THEY LAST FOR A PERIOD AND THEN IT'S LIKE THIS WAS GREAT, LET'S MOVE ON.

THIS DOESN'T SEEM THAT -- AS IF ANYBODY'S READY FOR IT TO MOVE ON.

IT SEEMS --

NO.

TRULY TIMELESS IN AN AGE WHERE WE HAVE SUCH A SHORT ATTENTION SPAN FOR ANYTHING.

YEAH.

LET ME ASK YOU EACH, WHY DO YOU THINK, WHAT IS IT ABOUT IT THAT ALLOWS IT TO BE SO TIMELESS?

I THINK BECAUSE THE STORY OF THE LION KING, THE SHOW IT RELATES TO EVERYBODY, YOU KNOW.

YOU HAVE THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE.

YOU HAVE, YOU KNOW, DEATH -- PEOPLE WHEN THEY'RE GOING THROUGH SOMETHING, WHEN THEY COME TO THE SHOW, SOMETIMES EVEN WHEN YOU LEAVE THE AUDIENCE, YOU HEAR THEM TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, HOW IT HAS HELPED THEM.

YEAH.

TO ADD ON TO THAT, I WOULD SAY I MEAN THE COOL THING IS THAT WE HAVE PEOPLE COME BACK AND SEE THE SHOW MULTIPLE TIMES.

BECAUSE AT ANY GIVEN POINT IN YOUR LIFE, LIKE WHEN YOU SEE THE SHOW AS A CHILD, YOU KNOW, AS A 7-YEAR-OLD CHILD, YOU SEE, YOU KNOW, YOU PROBABLY RELATE MORE TO THE CHILDREN IN THE SHOW.

AS YOU'VE HAD MORE EXPERIENCE, THEN MAYBE YOU COME BACK AND YOU SEE YOURSELF IN SIMBA OR NALA.

BUT I THINK THE MAIN THING IS L '' LION KING' HAS NEVER SOSTOPPED GROWING.

NOT JUST FOR AUDIENCE.

FOR US, TOO, IT HELPS US.

MY CHILDREN, 14 AND 10, THEY'RE NOW 36 AND 32.

WHEN I SAID I WAS GOING TO BE TALKING TO YOU, THEY SAID, 'WE'VE GOT TO SEE THAT AGAIN.'

AND THEY'LL HAVE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE NOW.

I CAN'T SAY.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

IT'S A DELIGHT TO TALK TO YOU.

LIKEWISE, THANK YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

SUCH A MARVELOUS PRODUCTION.

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU VISIT WITH US.

GOOD LUCK TO BOTH OF YOU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

AND 'LION KING' IS PLAYING AT THE MINSCOFF THEATER.

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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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