Hamilton’s America, the PBS documentary by Alex Horwitz ’02 that explores the history behind Hamilton: An American Musical, created and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99, was honored as a finalist in the documentary category for the 76th annual Peabody Awards. The awards honor storytelling done well in film, television, radio, and on the internet.
The acclaimed documentary was several years in the making. Horwitz first approached Miranda and Kail with the idea in 2012—and cameras were rolling by 2013. “All I needed to hear was a demo of that first song, ‘Alexander Hamilton,’ and my interest was piqued,” said Horwitz in our exclusive interview from October 2016, when the documentary premiered on PBS. “I’m a history nerd and a musical theater nerd, so Lin was scratching a lot of itches for me. I told him that it didn’t matter to me if he was making an album or a show; I just wanted to make a movie about him dramatizing history. That was the angle from the beginning.”
Horwitz and his crew pared down almost 100 hours of footage for the 1.5-hour documentary, using Alexander Hamilton’s life as one the film’s three threads. “Whittling down is just a matter of time and repeated viewings. But that wasn’t quite as hard as the interweaving. We had these three threads—the life of Hamilton, the creation of the show, and excerpts from the show itself—which we had to braid into one cohesive film. So it was a question of finding a lot of internal logic and segues in the footage,” said Horwitz.
The Peabody Award winners in the documentary category were announced on April 18. All of this year’s winners will be feted during an awards ceremony on May 20th that will air on June 2 on PBS.
The building, which is located in the Lower East Side, covers 20,000 square feet and will house 20 condos, climbing to 80 feet. Aside from the two penthouses at the top level, the rest of the dwellings are 550 square-foot one-bedroom condos. The gallery space is larger than most galleries in the area, spanning 45 feet wide.
Each space is highly efficient and the building features an innovative perforated aluminum rain-screen façade, which doubles as a shading device and a panel for air exchange.
Rich and his firm were commended for keeping the design true to the area’s history. In an interview with The Wesleyan Connection, Rich said, “We love working on the Lower East Side. It’s the most dynamic residential neighborhood in New York City, and there is a deep history stored in every block. Our design draws from this history to create a contemporary and forward-thinking building that feels rooted in its site.”
Additionally, PRO has connections to Wesleyan. Rich explained, “Our first project as an office was to design a painting studio for Tula Telfair [professor of art] in Lyme, Conn. “My wife and business partner, Miriam Peterson, managed construction on the job while teaching in the Wesleyan architecture studio.”
The project will break ground on 228 Grand Street this spring and is scheduled to be finished in fall 2018.
Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 teamed up with Jennifer Lopez on the benefit single “Love Make the World Go Round.” (Associated Press photo)
“Hamilton” writer-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, bested Beyonce, Adele and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, among others for the title Associated Press Entertainer of the Year for 2016. The award is voted by members of the news cooperative and AP entertainment reporters.
In 2016, Miranda also won a Pulitzer Prize, multiple Tony Awards, a Golden Globe nomination, and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. He also hosted Saturday Night Live, asked Congress to help dig Puerto Rico out of its debt crisis, performed at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Broadway, lobbied to stop gun violence in America and teamed up with singer/songwriter Jennifer Lopez on the benefit single “Love Make the World Go Round.”
“I’ve been jumping from thing to thing and what’s been thrilling is to see the projects that happen very quickly kind of exploding side-by-side with the projects I’ve been working on for years,” Miranda said in the AP article.
Erin O’Neill of The Marietta Times said Miranda dominated entertainment news this year but, more importantly, “opened a dialogue about government, the founding of our country and the future of politics in America.”
According to the Associated Press, there’s more Miranda to come in 2017, including filming Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” with Emily Blunt (due out Christmas 2018) and a TV and film adaptation of the fantasy trilogy “The Kingkiller Chronicle.”
On Friday, October 21, at 9 p.m., PBS will debut Hamilton’s America, a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the smash musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02. The documentary is directed by Miranda’s Wesleyan roommate, Alex Horwitz ’02, and features footage from the Broadway show along with interviews with Miranda, Hamilton director Thomas Kail ’99, and an array of others, including President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Questlove, Black Thought, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Sondheim, and more.
Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, center. (Photo by Joan Marcus/The Public Theater)
Hamilton, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99, won 11 Tony Awards, including the award for Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Kail), Best Actor in a Musical, Best Book (Miranda), Best Original Score (Miranda), Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, and Best Orchestrations, at the 70th Annual Tony Awards ceremony held at the Beacon Theater in New York on June 12.
The award-winning musical, which tells the story of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, received a record-breaking 16 total nominations.
Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)
Hamilton, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99, received a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations on May 3, including nods for Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Kail) Best Actor in a Musical (Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr.), Best Book (Miranda), Best Original Score (Miranda), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (three nominations), Best Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, and Best Orchestrations. The 16 total nominations broke the previous record of 15, shared by Billy Elliot (2009) and The Producers (2001). The Producers holds the current record for most Tony Award wins for a musical, with a total of 12.