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Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?
Economics has nothing to do with racist casting policies.
By Keith Chow

“If minorities are box office risks, what accounts for the success of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, which presented a broadly diverse team, behind and in front of the camera? Over seven movies it has grossed nearly $4 billion worldwide. In fact, a recent study by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that films with diverse leads not only resulted in higher box office numbers but also higher returns of investment for studios and producers.”

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A Word With: Javier Muñoz, the New Hamilton on Broadway [x]:

Mr. Muñoz has some obvious similarities to the man he is replacing — both have parents from Puerto Rico, graduated from New York City public schools and encountered Broadway as children, becoming passionate about theater. And their careers have been entwined for years — Mr. Muñoz was Mr. Miranda’s alternate, and then his successor, on “In the Heights,” and has been his alternate throughout the development of “Hamilton.”

But Mr. Muñoz brings his own life experience to the role. The son of a doorman, he grew up in a housing project — the Linden Houses, in East New York, Brooklyn, which he recalls as scarily violent and dangerous. “I can’t lie — I’m still afraid of it,” he says. “It was so much fear growing up there.”

He is 40, openly gay, H.I.V. positive and a cancer survivor — he had surgery and radiation last fall, missing weeks of performances in “Hamilton,” but has been back in the cast for months. He said he feels strong — the virus is undetectable, the cancer screenings negative — and is raring to go. “I had my first follow-up in March, and all green lights,” he said. “I’m good.”

[…]

Why are you an actor?

I decided in high school — at Edward R. Murrow in Brooklyn. I just fell in love with the idea that theater can be a mirror, theater can be a commentary, theater can be powerful and can start a conversation that needs to happen. I started working for a children’s literacy organization that used theater to teach literacy in after-school programs, and that was another powerful thing — suddenly the kid who really had trouble reading in class, or was embarrassed to speak out loud because of their accent, was inhabiting a character, using their imagination, reading and writing. That blew my mind.

Did you go to Broadway when you were growing up?

I did — school trips. The first thing I saw was “Me and My Girl.” And I loved it so much — I was singing “The Lambeth Walk” for weeks. After that, any time there was a school trip to Lincoln Center, or anything that was arts related, I was so into it.

What happened with your health last fall? How did you know you had cancer?

I have been living with H.I.V. since 2002, and I’m undetectable. I’m healthy, I’m strong and I’m very out about that because of the stigma still attached to it. But I’ve had a healthy fear about my health since I tested positive, and I asked how to test myself for lumps, because both my parents had cancer. And very early on in my learning how to do a self-examination, I found the lump. I wasn’t immediately worried because of where it was — and I do want to keep that private because that’s the only thing that’s mine in this. But I brought it up to my doc, and that’s what led to further testing and discovery.

You didn’t want to tell anyone at “Hamilton”?

I was filling myself with disappointment, as if you can blame yourself for cancer. But that’s a thing, you know. I had to reveal it, and then I had to own that I needed help, and I had to ask for help, and that was the hardest thing in the world.

You express a lot of gratitude on social media.

I have this joke — if it’s funny or not funny, I don’t know — but the joke is that I have died several times already, and that’s how it feels. My life completely and drastically changed in 2002 when I was diagnosed with H.I.V., and then again last year with cancer. And you can’t unknow what you know. Life is not the same after that. But I’m alive, and I’m for all intents and purposes healthy and well. And I’m grateful for that.

You planted a garden on the roof of Richard Rodgers, the theater where “Hamilton” is performed.

There’s so much energy on the stage, there are so many things we’re doing day in and day out, and I needed something there that felt still and calm, and gardening gives me that stillness and that calmness. Also, I’m growing something. And it may sound cheesy or corny, but it’s really not. The fact that life is created in that little garden bed heals me. It just does.

How many shows a week will you do?

Seven. It’s the same structure. [For the eighth performance] someone else gets to be sexy — I’m going to go eat pizza.

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For $10, New York City Students See ‘Hamilton’ and Rap for Lin-Manuel Miranda (NYT)

The 1,300 students who saw “Hamilton” on Wednesday, most of them 11th graders enrolled in classes about American history, are the first of 20,000 who are to see the musical under a program sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. The program, which focuses on students in schools with high percentages of low-income families, is intended to make it possible for younger and more diverse audiences to see a show for which tickets have become hugely expensive and difficult to obtain.

“I hope I can be inspired and motivated,” Yeliz Sezgin, a 15-year-old junior at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn, said as the daylong events, which included a question-and-answer session with the cast, began. Ms. Sezgin designed a T-shirt for the 159 Fort Hamilton students, with her school’s mascot, a tiger, posed with the upstretched arm of the musical’s logo.Photo 

In preparing to attend the show, Ms. Sezgin and her classmates had read love letters between Alexander and his wife, Eliza, and she compared them to text messages; she said she was also impressed by the realization that Mr. Miranda spent years developing the musical: “He didn’t know what this would be, and yet he kept at it.”

After seeing the show, some students said they were especially struck by the cast, which features Hispanic and black actors playing the founding fathers. “I was thinking about the diversity while I was watching it, with all this controversy in the entertainment industry,” said Amber Montalvo, a 17-year-old student at the High School for Media and Communications in Manhattan. “It’s inspiring.”

Kaye Houlihan, the principal of Fort Hamilton, said her school had an annual unit on Hamilton, because of its name, but had intensified its study in anticipation of seeing the show. She said the exercise of asking students to produce skits — of two minutes or less related to the history — had prompted various takes on the material, including girls exploring neglected women of the era.

Some students said reading the history had made them more curious to understand how the musical was conceived. “I want to know why Burr killed Hamilton,” said Raekwon Edwards, a 17-year-old junior at Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy. His schoolmate Valentin Dinaj, 16, said, “I want to see how they bring history alive.

The students were, not surprisingly, an extraordinarily enthusiastic audience. They shouted “I love you” at Mr. Miranda. They cheered for belted notes, laughed at sexual innuendo, cheered trash talk (“Daddy’s calling!,” a dig at Hamilton’s dependence on President Washington, and “We know who’s really doing the planting,” a jab at the South’s dependence on slavery, drew particularly loud reactions) and gasped at the shooting death of Hamilton’s son Philip.

Two of the cast members who addressed the students, Mr. Miranda and Anthony Ramos, are alumni of the New York public schools. Mr. Ramos said that by participating in school musicals, as well as sports, he was able to “find that part of me that I didn’t even know I had.” And he urged the school officials present to do more for arts education. “The public school system has neglected the arts a little bit,” Mr. Ramos said. “Y’all think you don’t have the money — you better find it.” 

Greenland is Melting Away

This river is one of a network of thousands at the front line of climate change.

 By NYTimes: Coral Davenport, Josh Haner, Larry Buchanan and Derek Watkins                                    

On the Greenland Ice Sheet — The midnight sun still gleamed at 1 a.m. across the brilliant expanse of the Greenland ice sheet. Brandon Overstreet, a doctoral candidate in hydrology at the University of Wyoming, picked his way across the frozen landscape, clipped his climbing harness to an anchor in the ice and crept toward the edge of a river that rushed downstream toward an enormous sinkhole.

If he fell in, “the death rate is 100 percent,” said Mr. Overstreet’s friend and fellow researcher, Lincoln Pitcher.

But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet. [bold/itals mine]

“We scientists love to sit at our computers and use climate models to make those predictions,” said Laurence C. Smith, head of the geography department at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the leader of the team that worked in Greenland this summer. “But to really know what’s happening, that kind of understanding can only come about through empirical measurements in the field.”

For years, scientists have studied the impact of the planet’s warming on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. But while researchers have satellite images to track the icebergs that break off, and have created models to simulate the thawing, they have little on-the-ground information and so have trouble predicting precisely how fast sea levels will rise.

Dire report by three excellent Times journalists covering a team of researchers camped out on the icesheets of Greenland. The conclusion is that glaciers and land ice are melting at rates far higher than scientists anticipated, or that climate models have shown. This means that sea levels are rising faster than projected, and many coastal communities are in grave danger.

The economic impacts are incalculable.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Final Bows in ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway (NYT):

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s final bows for his farewell performance in “Hamilton” on Saturday night seemed routine, if overly humble for the departure of the show’s star and mastermind. He even shared his bows with the other cast members also exiting the show, including Phillipa Soo and the Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr.

But then the theme song to “The West Wing” kicked in from the orchestra pit.

Mr. Miranda giggled and took a couple of shy bows, only to turn around and be embraced then pushed back to the front of the stage by Christopher Jackson, who plays George Washington, for a proper bow.

Still, the curtain call lasted no more than two and a half minutes, despite fervent applause, which had been consistent throughout the night. The opening number received multiple standing ovations, as did many others. But Mr. Miranda and other performers would pause for only a minute each time before moving the show forward.

Afterward, in the pouring rain, hundreds and hundreds of fans filled West 46th Street, waiting for Mr. Miranda to emerge from the stage door at the Richard Rodgers Theater.

Instead, Mr. Miranda appeared, “Evita”-like, on a balcony atop the theater’s marquee. Holding an umbrella and waving to fans, he paced from one side of the marquee to the other, occasionally stopping to hold his left hand over his heart to show gratitude.

Then he was gone.

“It’s over, folks,” a police officer yelled as he tried to keep the crowd out of the street. “There’s no more.”

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Dec. 28, 1961: “Different people have different reasons for hating to see that evening sun go down, but nobody has a better reason than the New Yorker who travels by subway,” wrote William K. Zinsser in The Times, in a cranky commuter’s rant for the ages. “Rush hour turns lambs into lions, gentle people into fiends and fullbacks,” Mr. Zinsser wrote. Photo: Sam Falk/The New York Times

There is good reason to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill. After all, he was the first Treasury secretary and the creator of the foundations of the American financial system. But there’s no reason to add another portrait to that bill.

A better idea is to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill and replace him with a distinguished woman from American history. Jackson was a slave owner whose decisions annihilated American Indian tribes of the Southeast. He also hated paper currency and vetoed the reauthorization of the Second Bank of the United States, a predecessor of the Federal Reserve. Jackson is in the history books, but there’s no reason to keep him in our wallets.

Capturing Art in the Dark with Dance Photographer Andrea Mohin

To keep up Andrea’s photography, follow @andrea_mohin on Instagram.

For Andrea Mohin (@andrea_mohin), capturing dance is “like sports photography in the dark, only you don’t know the game.” Whether she’s taking pictures of a tap troupe, a flamenco dancer or the prima ballerina mid-grand jeté, the New York Times (@nytimes) staff photographer says she often senses her subjects’ moves in advance. “You have to be really sharp. You have to listen to the music and try to be part of the rhythm of what is occurring in front of you,” she says. Andrea’s favorite moments are when dancers look suspended in the air, a recurring theme in her feed. “When I shoot an entire program, we can only publish one to three pictures, so I wind up with a whole stash,” Andrea says. “Now I can let other people see what I’m seeing.”