MetroFocus

“OSCAR ON OSCAR”

Transcript

>> 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.


URL: https://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2019/07/oscar-on-oscar/