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Broadway Curtains Rising Again

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

(Soundbite of music)


This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We bring you news information. Today, the positive side of hip-hop gets highlighted. It's not all keeping your ho in check. It's Thursday, November 29th. I'm Luke Burbank.


And I'm Alison Stewart.

What have I learned about blogging since working on this show? Did we say something bad about an iPhone?

If you interviewed the band Sigur Ros or if you mentioned Ron Paul, people will find your blog and comment regularly.

BURBANK: I have to say this was because there was a mention on the blog about this piece Tucker Carlson has been working on about Ron Paul.

STEWART: Right. He was our guest yesterday and he's…


STEWART: …writing a piece for, I think, The New Republic, and he's actually on the road with Ron Paul, so we thought…


STEWART: …okay, so he's seen this man up-close and personal. He's not - he doesn't have his pundit hat on, he's got his reporter hat on, you know?

BURBANK: And he says a lot of nice things about Paul in terms of him being really genuine.

STEWART: I don't think a lot of people heard the interview. I think they just read the blog posting.

BURBANK: There was even one mention, saying that maybe Ron Paul supporters don't understand every single bit of his platform and that set the posts a-blazing.

STEWART: It did, but spirited discussion nonetheless, but let's be nice. Can we just kind of keep it nice?

BURBANK: Our own Matt Martinez, supervising senior producer, made the mistake of weighing in on one, like, side element of it, and then he was torn to shreds.

And, you know, the most amazing thing was I thought maybe these were just posts that people will just stick up anywhere that Ron Paul was mentioned online. I did a bunch of Google searches on these people's little names and descriptions, and these all seemed to be fairly unique. These are all people, by my research, had just gone on our blog and made this big long comment about Ron Paul on just that place. It wasn't some kind of a, you know, cut and paste job.

STEWART: Yeah. Well, I hope they stick around; enjoy the show.


STEWART: Comment often.

BURBANK: Please do.

Coming up on the BPP: We are going to talk about the JAM Awards. They're tonight. They're held in the honor of the late Jam Master Jay of Run-D.M.C. fame. The idea of these awards is to highlight some of the good work that people in the hip-hop community do. The wife of the late Jam Master Jay is going to actually be here to talk about who's getting the awards and also about her husband's legacy.

STEWART: And we're going to get an update on the continuing riots in France, but a different kind of update from what you've been reading. Newsweek's Paris bureau chief is reporting that last night's rioting not so bad; neither was the night before. And he says this may be blown a bit out of proportion. He'll join us.

BURBANK: And, of course, we're going to have a big breakdown of last night's Republican YouTube debate in Florida; it was quite a corker. Candidates got questions from a guy who was eating corn, a cartoon waving a gun. It was, you know, like Adult Swim on Cartoon Network or something with C-SPAN. Oh, and Rudy Giuliani got booed. We'll talk to Ryan Lizza with The New Yorker about what exactly happened.

Plus, we've got the news from Rachel Martin in just a moment.

First though, here's the BPP's big story.

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(Soundbite of song, "Posse on Broadway")

SIR MIX-A-LOT (Rapper): (Singing) My posse's on Broadway. My posse's on Broadway. Me and Kid Sensation at home away from home.

BURBANK: All right - actually my Fosses on Broadway. Hey, yo. A joke for hip-hop fans and fans of musicals.

STEWART: Who like "Chicago" and jazz hands.

BURBANK: That's right. Back on Broadway that is; that is because the stagehand strike that has shut down Broadway shows, like "Chicago," "The Lion King" and "Wicked," it ends today after more than two weeks of picketing and tens of millions of dollars in lost theater revenue.

STEWART: Now a deal was announced late last night between the stagehand's union and a League of American Theaters and Producers; that's after a three-day marathon session of negotiations to reach an agreement over how many stagehands are needed to open a show and keep it running.

BURBANK: Both sides reached a tentative agreement on hours and production conditions in a new five-year contract. They're not disclosing the full details, but the contract reportedly includes an increase in yearly raises for the stagehands. The union is scheduled to vote on the tentative contract in 10 days. Most shows will be up and running by tonight.

Here's Charlotte Martins(ph) of the Producers League.

Ms. CHARLOTTE MARTINS (The League of American Theaters and Producers, Inc): What is most important is that Broadway's lights will once again be shining brightly with a diversity of productions that will delight all theater-goers during this holiday time.

STEWART: Now, both sides felt the pressure to end the dispute now because the holidays mean big bucks for Broadway and New York City. Last year, during the same two week period of the strikes, ticket sales to Broadway - $42 million; this year, $7.2 million.

BURBANK: And that's had an effect on New York City's revenues - the strike has. The city estimates its loss in $2 million a day from drops in diners, shoppers and tourists drawn by the theater industry, multiply that by 19 days, the losses stack up to almost $40 million.

STEWART: Now there is more strike news. The possibility that CBS news writers could walk off the job has cost the network the next big presidential debate.

BURBANK: The Democratic National Committee is cancelling the presidential debate originally scheduled for December 10th. That's the same day writers said yesterday that they may choose for a walkout. CBS's Katie Couric would have served as moderator.

STEWART: And that's the BPP big story. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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