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Forest Whitaker, Getting Behind A 'Brick City' Hero

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Forest Whitaker, Getting Behind A 'Brick City' Hero

Television

Forest Whitaker, Getting Behind A 'Brick City' Hero

Forest Whitaker, Getting Behind A 'Brick City' Hero

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/113032763/113039260" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Mayor Booker gives an impassioned speech at a Newark Police Academy graduation ceremony, rallying the new officers to join in the public-safety fight — one key part of his plan for urban renewal. Sundance Channel hide caption

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Sundance Channel

Mayor Booker gives an impassioned speech at a Newark Police Academy graduation ceremony, rallying the new officers to join in the public-safety fight — one key part of his plan for urban renewal.

Sundance Channel

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'Police Academy Graduation'

'Jayda'

'McCarthy Meeting'

Gang violence and urban crime are topics widely covered in big cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. Filmmaker Marc Levin, originally from Maplewood, N.J., was challenged by a gang member from Newark to stop focusing outward in his projects — and to look instead at what was happening "in his own backyard."

The result is Brick City, a five-part documentary series for the Sundance Channel, which follows Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker in his work to dramatically improve the city's crime rates. The story drew the attention of Academy Award-winning actor-director Forest Whitaker, who became executive producer of the project. Whitaker joins host Madeleine Brand to discuss his role in documenting Booker's crusade to take back the summer in his city.

Whitaker says he admires Booker and the work that he's done — including reducing Newark's murder rate by 40 percent in 2008 alone — saying that "he empowers people, and he's done that on so many occasions. That's what you're seeing in the documentary."