3 GREAT STORIES: Starring James Brown, Times Square, & airports

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

The whitewashing of James Brown (8/5/14, Huffington Post): Each of the “3 Great Stories” this week were alerted to me by others, each through social media.

I read about this article from one-time “3 Great Stories” honoree Tina McElroy Ansa, who Tweeted about it a few days ago. I became a big fan of Ansa’s when I discovered a speech of hers on The Moth, and she recommended a powerful piece here.

Screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard pens an op-ed for the Huffington Post about the startling lack of black voices behind biopics of black figures. Using the new James Brown movie as a starting point, Howard dissects an all-too-familiar situation =:

Indeed, all the producers, writers, and the director of the James Brown movie are white. No black people were hired until a few weeks before the cameras started rolling, the actors. In fact, several of the people involved in this whitewash are British.

The opening of Get On Up has triggered several articles to this effect, and they make powerful and valuable statements. Howard does several things here: (A) fight for his idea about Brown’s legacy, (B) lament the “Hollywood apartheid” against black filmmakers, and (C) provide enough background and hard data to make both points.

How Times Square works (7/31/14, Gizmodo): This piece came to my eyes through a friend on Facebook, and I am extremely glad it did.

I grew up in New Jersey and have stepped foot in Times Square on many occasions, occasionally wondering how it came to be such an iconic spot.

I owe Adam Clark Estes of Gizmodo a big thanks for answering this question, and in such an enjoyable way.

Turns out, Estes says, Times Square is just “one big computer”, a salute to bright lights and specifically LEDs. He describes the efforts, both city-based and technological, that contributed to the square’s renaissance.

Read about them, and you will look at Times Square far differently the next time you visit.

Walk this way (8/4/14, 99% Invisible): In a way, the latest entry of Roman Mars’ 99% Invisible feels like cheating.

Producer Sam Greenspan puts the spotlight on wayfinding, and to do so he basically replicates the first chapter of David Zweig’s Invisibles — a chapter I recently credited as a great story in its own right. He even goes so far as to interview Zweig himself.

But the elongated anecdote — about the new international terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — somehow seems even more digestible in audio form. The points are made more deliberately and enable the listener to more easily visualize the airport’s layout. The production on 99% Invisible is always impeccable, and this one deserves credit.

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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