Alan Goldberg is the producer of this Sunday's Dateline report City of Angels with Craig Melvin. Alan was also one of the original Dateline producers in 1992! Take a minute to get to know him in the video above, and learn more about this Sunday's report in the Q + A below.
Dateline: We know you’re producing this Sunday’s Dateline. We have a few questions. How did you come across the case in this Sunday’s report?
Alan: So, I was reading a story a story about the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and inside that story there was a mention of one of their violinists named Vijay Gupta, who on the side has started something called Street Symphony, which is a group of professional musicians who are bringing their music to the disenfranchised -- specifically to the homeless encampment in Los Angeles called Skid row. After we spent time with Vijay in Skid Row, we realized that our story was bigger than just one place – that homelessness had exploded across Los Angeles. For years, the city had tried to contain the homeless inside Skid Row, and in the last 5 to 6 years that has changed radically. And with the skyrocketing rents, and stagnant wages, many people who we call the economically homeless have ended up on the streets. And they have spread from Skid Row to places like Venice Beach, to the San Fernando Valley – even into Beverley Hills and Bel Air.
Dateline: Tell us a bit about the story.
Alan: So, there is a homeless epidemic occurring up and down the west coast, but it is acute -- and the form of crisis in California and specifically Los Angeles, where there are 55,000 homeless people on the streets. So, it’s a very desperate situation. And the government and policy makers are scratching their heads and working very hard to figure out how to try to solve the problem. They recently passed a $1.2 billion dollar initiative to provide more housing for the homeless, and no one knows if that will work or not, but there are efforts being made.
Dateline: What was the most unusual location you filmed at for this episode?
Alan: Well, I think you have to say Skid Row, because anyone who has been to Skid Row and has seen it for the first time —it’s like a shock to the system. It’s unbelievable that such a place exists in America, and in the second largest city in America and one of the wealthiest countries/states/cities in the world. It’s as if a bomb went off. And you see bodies everywhere. You see people living in tents. You see people who may be mentally ill, have drug addictions. But you see many people who simply lost their homes. And it’s a very sad and dark place to be.
Dateline: What’s the best thing about working on a story with Craig Melvin?
Alan: Well for a producer, Craig is a dream. He was incredibly well prepared, did all of his homework. And when he was with us in the field, whether it was in Skid Row or other places around Los Angeles, he just did exceptional interviews to draw out the people who are in this desperate situation. And he did it with respect and, I think, with a lot of dignity.