Luis Valdez revisits the 'Valley' of his youth
From the broadcast center. Ed, K P C C. This is the frame, I'm John horn on today's show want more, Fox News in your life. Now, there's an app for that. Then playwright Louise fell Dez talks about reaching diverse audiences through his work in theatre including his new play called valley of the heart. It doesn't matter. Whether you're talking about farm workers or people working officers. You know, we are human beings were sent human beings in the heart is very important into I believe that by going through the heart. You get to the mind and Ana dasilva from the feminist post punk band, the raincoats talks about her new music and an important visit from Kurt cobaine all that coming up today on the frame. KPCC podcasts are supported by. Netflix presenting an original film from Academy Awards winning directors. Joel and Ethan Coen, the ballot of busters Scruggs an exploration of life's joys and woes set in the American frontier awards eligible on Netflix. And in select eaters, KPCC supporters include FOX searchlight, presenting the favourite Royal tale of loyalty power and deception from director Yorgos length limos, starring Livia Coleman is Queen and Emma stone. Rachel vice as the women of the court vying for her favor now playing welcome to the frame. I'm John horn. Thanks for joining us. A brand new streaming service launched today. It's called FOX nation. No-holds-barred talk from your favorite FOX personalities. Can't miss new specials, and documentaries and more all exclusively at your fingertips are timed, and this is going to be our place the streaming app costs five ninety nine a month. It's been described as net flicks for conservatives. Steven batallio covers TV. And the media business for the LA times. And he fills us in on what sets FOX nation apart from Fox News. If you think of the political rhetoric and right wing commentary on Fox News as cocaine. Fox nation is aid uncut version of that it is pure right wing common. 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And they now they have about two or three million people paying anywhere from five ninety nine nine ninety nine a month work. And I think the question is is that we have to be there because this is where the viewer is going eighteen to thirty four viewers that age group is spending more time every year watching traditional linear television. And if you don't have a platform to reach those people your brand will be forgotten by them or not known by them at all. So it's it's a matter of just planting your flag in this new landscape and being there Steven batallio covers television for the Los. Angeles times. Stephen thanks so much for coming back on the show. My pleasure. And we have some sad news to report the animation community in LA has lost. A great talent Stephen hill and bird was the creator of the wildly popular. Nickelodeon series, SpongeBob squarepants Hilbert pulled from his background teaching marine biology for the show he studied animation and fine art in grad school where he made short films. His nineteen Ninety-two short wormholes won the best animated concept award at the Ottawa international animation festival. And that's where he met Joe Murray who suggested that Helen Burd consider working in TV Murray at the time was developing his own Nickelodeon series, Rocco's modern life. We were starting to staff up for Rocco, and I saw this film. And I said, I need to meet this guy can immediately see that he was really warped, and really talented and really amazing. So I walked up to me in a backpack. He was like a student and. And traduced myself. And I said would you ever consider working in television in all of us were never really thinking about television, because we're all independent filmmakers, you know. But I told him that we were able to do some really mazing things on this show. And and then he laughed about it. And he says, well, let's talk about it. So I was able to talk them into it. Helen, Bergen, his wife Karen have been long time and very generous donors to KPCC among many other arts and culture, nonprofits, Stephen hill and Burke died yesterday at the age of fifty seven following a battle with AOL s coming up playwright and director Louis fell Dez revisits California's central valley during World War Two. Last Sunday American soldiers fired tear gas on immigrants from Central America seeking asylum. Thousands are camped at the US Mexico border as more refugees arrive every day fleeing violence and persecution. Those are conditions that for playwright and director Louis fell Dez recall, the same prejudices and injustices suffered by Japanese Americans at the start of World War Two. When does was a child his family lived and worked on a central California farm that was owned by Japanese family, and that experience inspired valley of the heart. It's a play about to immigrant families, the Yamaguchi's and the Montana's and a love affair that has hindered by cultural differences, and then ripped apart by the internment of Japanese-Americans when I spoke with Dez he recalled a neighbor from his childhood in the central valley named Esteban and how their friendship informed the characters in this play one day. I went back to his place. So. About dinnertime. They lived in little shack. We all lived in checks. Their Kitching was a cardboard lean to basically, and I discovered his mother was Japanese and his father was Mexican. So there's a weird combination. And she cooked Mexican food like, my mom and also Japanese food, which was my first taste of that whole exotic cuisine first taste of a rice ball came from her hands. And so I held onto that memory named the lovers after Estevan parents his father was Benjamin or Minka mean his mother was Thelma and so- Benjamin Thelma became the lovers in my play. That. Protective homefront. Become of such hateful derision in the land. I was born here. Race here. I went to school you. Anybody else when you were thinking about this period of American history? There are a couple of things that are very important. I think the play addresses them one is that both Mexican American and Japanese American families are feeding the nation. They are and your case feeding soldiers at war and yet for political reasons, they are not fully American and as soon as their services are essentially no longer needed or Japanese Americans are sent to internment camps there. No longer part of the fabric of America as a kid. Did you understand that that you were here? But really without a home that you were disenfranchised even us at felt that you are part of American society. Yes, it's true. That farm workers feeding the nation they feed the world, but they're the most despised group of Labour's in the world over this was the essence of my my motivation for joining Cesar Chavez and nineteen sixty five to work with United farm workers. Right. The Lucien of that str-. Like the grape strike, which led to the creation of my theater company. Compassi? No, the objective was to prove that farm workers are human as everybody else. And we have as many stories to tell and ready to fight for the dignity of farm, labourers everywhere. Whether they're Mexican okays African Americans Filipinos, Asians of any kind of doesn't matter men women, the injustices that attend to the people that work in the field is outrageous when you are thinking about how you're gonna dramatize this part of your own life and American history. What are you settle on? What are the things that were important to make sure that we're represented because you have the internment of Japanese American you have modern-day share cropping, you have forbidden love. And then you have the larger cultural issue of immigration. How do you figure out how you're going to tell that story most efficiently? How much of the true story going can retain and how much are you going to have to make up? Well, let's good question. I it you take a stab in the dark. But you know, the love story is is to me. The essence of any story. It doesn't matter. Whether you're talking about farm workers or people working officers, you know, I- rises, whatever we are human beings. And we're sending human beings in the heart is very important. So I believe that by going through the heart. You get to the mind, and this is true about teachers this is about life in general in about all of the arts. I mean, this is why we love the artsy. Not just a theater, but music painting films, everything it allows us to be able to see with our hearts and to realize logically. You know, what what is right, and what is wrong when you think about what has happened in the five years since this play was workshop and refined. It feels as if the world is changing even faster than you can possibly keep up with in your play. Did you feel temptation to make any updates to it or reduce gonna it speak to history as being played out right now? I think I really do truly believe that you can write a play in its own context if you can find it, and it will. Remain vital and alive and relevant. The fact is that is playwright you have to focus on the humanity of your characters. And if you focus, honestly and truthfully that reality was speak across generations. And it doesn't matter what this the forties thirties twenties or the latter. Half of the twenty first century, people will not change fundamentally your play and very specifically on September tenth two thousand and one one day before September eleventh, and that's a period where we see a huge rise of phobia in the United States. You feel that there is another story that you could tell that picks up essentially where this play, and we'll absolutely I mean, again, one of my earliest experiences in farm labor was that everybody was out there right after the war, not just Mexicans, but also African Americans from the south, you know, the refugees from from slavery. Basically, we had Asians out that we had Chinese people Japanese people Filipinos and seeks from. India? So and the with the Oki's and everyone else, you know, in the Puerto Ricans I felt that the whole world was out in the fields. And so there's wealth there. There is power there. There is dignity there. And those stories can only be told I think through through the yards. We're talking with Louise fell does who is the writer director of the play valley of the heart. When you're performing with LT. I'll throw compassi no you're in the fields and people who are picking produce concede. Their lives and themselves reflected in performance does that translate to someplace like the Mark taper forum where when I went and saw the play. It was a very diverse audience that people of all origins, but certainly a lot of Mexican Americans can go see a play where they see their own stories and people who look like themselves represented onstage. I'm very happy and proud to be part of CT G hundred theatre group. I've been been my second home in California's my home in Los Angeles, and to be able to come here and do work with a team of profession. Channels are of course, my some of the people from compassi. No, our of my brilliant, costume designer my wife, Lupu Trujillo, she's from the other compassi. No by some of the actors, the lead actors is our son. But you know, it's it's not Hollywood nepotism. It's compass Tino nepotism gonna family families. And so this is how we support us, but having access to the taper stage as a loud me to address the people of Los Angeles and to give other Latino and also Asian actors and other people up between eighty to come and to display their talents before the world at the center at the music center. Do you feel that you are telling American stories because I think there's an easy way for people to pigeonhole your stories historians have Californians are Mexican Americans. You find that you feel that you're writing American place. I feel like an American playwright. Absolutely. Yes. I'm of Mexican origin. But I mean, I grew up in the nineteen forties and fifties all my teachers world Anglos, you know, from the mid west. And and I they taught me man, I they taught me to believe in the American dream like everybody else. And I know that the great reasons to be cynical these days and be full of hate and anger, and I went through that period in my twenties. But the fact is that that I'm very grateful to the teachers that I've had and ultimately I believe in the fundamental principles that have guided this country for over two hundred years, and I think we need to fight to retain that in every way. And it only requires a very basic day to day daily decency from our leaders from our politicians, not the lies and distortions that we're hearing publicly. So that's why I'm an activist. That's why my art my theater is about society and about people interacting with each other a big part of the stories about the internment of Japanese-Americans. What am I? They were no more or less patriotic. In fact, the Japanese American soldiers more where two of the most decorated outfit in the American army. And yet we're at a time now where we're talking about Muslim band and how we are judging people based on their appearance in their religion. Does it strike you that this story is actually more urgent today than it might have been even a couple of years ago? I think unfortunately, more urgent at the moment than it was when I started writing this, right, which is two thousand twelve two thousand thirteen when we first produced it, although I felt the agency then there's no question about that. I I've been in activist most of my life since my twenties when I joined Cesar Chavez, and I consider our work that we're gonna see no still part of that social activism, but using the arts as a working tool arts to reach people into raise their consciences, and and hope that they become active also. But I think that yes. The the elements that we're dealing with now have a burning urgency. They're like the the. Fires that we see all over LA and up north the these fires burning and the fires have been Justice are are upon us. And we have to deal with smoke. We have to deal with the inability to be able to live comfortably, you know, with so much obvious obvious injustice and corruption around us, the rebound does the writer and director valley of the heart is at the Mark taper forum through December ninth the week to see you. Thanks. Thank you much. Coming up feminist punt -sition on a talks about her music both old and new. KPCC podcasts are supported by. The Netflix original film, the ballot of BUSTER scrubs from the incomparable mines of Joel and Ethan Coen comes six dollars film original stories that only they could tell set against the harsh and unforgiving backdrop, the American frontier. The ballot of busters Scruggs is an exploration of life's joys and woes winner of the best screenplay. The Venice film festival. The ballot of us are scrubbed on Netflix. And now playing in select theaters. KPCC supporters include FOX searchlight pictures, presenting the favourite Royal tale of loyalty. Power in deception from director your goes demus, starring Livia Coleman, Emma stone. Rachel vice nNcholas Holt Joe Allen and Marquette is now playing in select theaters. Welcome back to the frame. I'm John horn. Thanks for joining us. And now an excerpt from I'm in the band. It's a podcast about women punk music. From Allison Wolfe and the frames Jonathan shift the focus in this episode is unable to Silva her ban. The raincoats was hugely influential after launching in the nineteen seventies. To Silva has a new album called island made with a Japanese musician known as few to Sova started by talking about the time that Kurt cobaine came to visit her in London when he came to talk to me, I didn't know who he was later found out. It was Navonna. So we never really talked about anything, but he was being really shy and. Musica fall on the floor or something like that. These crazy Americans. The silva. Big. It's Anna Pala D'Alema pizza the Silva. I'm found a member of the raincoats. Was born in in Madeira, which is at Portuguese island. It was a small town where I live two hundred thousand people we didn't have an airport at the time. We didn't have television in Madeira the when many newspapers and the only came sporadically, so it was very cut off from culture from other places. It was only when I went to Lisbon to the university that I started having more things to look at and to listen to and there was also a political system that was very stifling. And then at the end of my course, nine hundred seventy four there was a revolution censorship with an end freedom of speech, restored inactions promised on most important role the end of Portugal's, colonial wars in Africa. It's called the carnation revolution. Because the soldiers that were going in the streets carnations in that guns, and mainly it was because the army was fed up with going to stupid wars that nobody was gonna win and you only lose in wars anyway, two hundred thousand people took to the streets. Stirring, red carnations and dancing with the troops. And the students were making some demonstrations and meetings revived people would speak about it. And they'll be revolutionary songs as well against the status quo and all that. Still university. My sister gave me an Christie guitar, and I just sit them bedroom playing you know, Jim buys songs and Bob Dylan songs. The money. And a friend of mine used to say should get to London and get a banner I just used to think she was crazy as saying something like that. Because to me that was crazy, and then I came to London to art school. And this what I meant Gina and that the time when I was at art school punk started. Just seeing that inspired us to start a band was the punk idea that is it really need to know how to play very well. You just have to have something to say in had the energy to do it. There was one thing. But seeing the slits playing and I had heard other women playing I loved Joan bias and Joni Mitchell, but it was a different thing. I never thought I could ever do that. This goes, you know, they didn't know exactly what they were doing. But they had so much to say just the fact that the way even just. When we started the band. My ideal actually was having to women to men because I thought that was the thing that you should stri full. But when we would all women it was good. Yeah. The rain coats. I did the solo album called the lighthouse which was done on a small synthesizer suppose that had lots of sounds in it in the sequencer, and I did the whole I'll on that for me that was a bit like digital punk or something. The Mutua thing is a bit complicated, and you have to island. I don't have mate salt soon. Friends that do the thing. And you talk about to read about it and look on YouTube to what to do. But basically, you have a wiig coming from one, and it can go pretty much anywhere. And that's when they the modules relate, which is amazing. So it's like I have a clear idea of what I'm gonna do. But the instrument is giving me something back as well. It takes over your life completely because all you can think it was. His my next module. When the rain 'cause went to Japan, we've played with this woman called few the pest that took us to Japan's. Are you one day do something with you? Sure. You know? You know? So I said, shall we do it? Do you really want to do this hustle? We do it could just try we transfer. So this what we did. I do some stuff with these modular synthesizer recorded onto my computer, send the files than she add add more tracks to them. And this how did the whole album? And that is our show for today. Remember, you can get the frame as a podcast wherever you like to listen, you can also find some of our stories on Elliot's. That's L A I S T dot com. I'm John horn. Thanks for listening. We'll see a back here tomorrow.