All Articles Tagged "spike lee"

Doing The Right Thing: Spike Lee Receives Honorary Oscar Award

August 28th, 2015 - By Chelcee Johns
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The 8th Annual 'Made In NY Awards' at Gracie Mansion Featuring: Spike Lee Where: New York City, NY, United States When: 10 Jun 2013 Credit: HRC/WENN.com

HRC/WENN.com

Iconic director Spike Lee has brought authentic Black stories to the big screen for years and his transcending work is being honored by the Academy Awards this fall. Announced Thursday, Lee will soon be the only African American to take home the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

The Board of Governors presents the award “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service,” noted USA Today.

Lee has definitely done all of the above in the movies and the streets, where he can often be found hosting Brooklyn block parties and marching for civil rights on any given day.

“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to express the views of black people who otherwise don’t have access to power and the media. I have to take advantage of that while I’m still bankable,” said Lee in Do the Right Thing: A Spike Lee Joint.

The gifted director will receive his honorary Oscar at the 7th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 14 in Hollywood.

Lee is, of course, no stranger to the Academy Awards. In 1983, his breakout film and NYU thesis Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads won a Student Academy Award and the creator hasn’t stopped since.

“What’s the difference between Hollywood characters and my characters? Mine are real,” said Lee on what sets him apart in The Secret Lives of Filmmakers. It’s this distinction that has kept Lee in the game for so long.

“The board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy president, in a statement. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”

Lee earned an original screenplay Oscar nomination for 1989’s Do The Right Thing and another nomination for directing the 1997 documentary 4 Little Girls. However, this will be the artist’s first time taking home an Oscar, though he has received numerous other awards.

Aside from making films, Lee is also the artistic director of the graduate film program at NYU.

“You gotta make your own way. You gotta find a way. You gotta get it done. It’s hard. It’s tough. That’s what I tell my students every day in class,” Lee told IndieWire.

We hear and celebrate you!

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of “Mo’ Better Blues”

August 3rd, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Universal

Universal

Today marks the 25th anniversary of one of my favorite films, Mo’ Better Blues. It had all the things necessary to make it a must-see: Denzel, Wesley, and jazz music. And while critics weren’t exactly in love with the project, it’s a beloved film that many Spike Lee fans can watch over and over again. I might just watch it tonight!

Anywho, in honor of the film’s anniversary, here are some secrets behind the making of the movie.

Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” Will Be Amazon’s First Feature Film

July 15th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Spike Lee

WENN

While Amazon battles its “Christmas In July” sale competition with Walmart, the prominent online marketer announced Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq film will be its first feature-length film.

Based on the reoccurring violence in the inner-city of the Chicago, Lee’s cast includes Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, Common, Wesley Snipes and John Cusack— some of whom grew up in the city. Despite the criticism the film has received for its title (a slang word used to describe the level of violence and conflict in the city), Amazon reports filming finished last week. Many politicians believe it will be hurtful to Chicago’s tourism, although they fail to address ways to better its on-going gun violence situation.

This past January, Amazon began planning to produce a dozen films this year in the hopes of creating distribution deals with traditional theaters. It also plans to release those same movies on its Prime streaming video service a month or two after it releases in theaters. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s aggressive approach may help them with their leading competitor Netflix who has several hit original content films and shows.

Prior to Spike Lee, Amazon launched deals with Woody Allen and Doonesbury comic strip creator Garry Trudeau.

“See It First!” Spike Lee Responds Defends His Upcoming Film “Chiraq”

May 15th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Spike Lee is responding to critics of his latest movie project Chiraq by asking everyone to wait and see what he has in mind before judging it prematurely.  Ever since the film project was announced, it has rubbed Windy City residents the wrong way — including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Chiraq, a blend of “Iraq” and “Chicago,” is an unfortunate nickname that the Windy City picked up due to its reputation for high crime and violence. With the word Chiraq splashed across a film created by a well-known director, community leaders are up in arms about the title claiming that it could affect tourism.

But Spike Lee is defending Chiraq, a musical comedy based on the city’s gun violence, and refuses to budge on the title.

“Let’s not put property and profit over human life,” Lee said, tackling critics who fear for the film’s impact on city revenue.

“A lot of things have been said about this film [from] people who know nothing about the film. A lot of people have opinions about the so-called title of the film, again, [they] know nothing about the film. So we felt it was appropriate that we say what the narrative is. The filmmakers – not the people just judging from afar,” Lee said at a press conference on Thursday.

Several speakers, including actor John Cusack, who has a role in the film, advocated for Chiraq.

“Spike called me up and told me what he was up to. We met, he looked me in the eye, and he said, ‘Johnny, the only reason to do this film is to help save lives.’ The film is set in Chicago, but it could easily be any urban American city where poverty, violence, and desperation are so ever present. This film stands at a long and fine tradition of American films of conscience,” Cusack said.

Kevin Wilmott, Lee’s co-writer, assured residents that this film will be about hope, peace, justice and “taking ownership of the problem.”

Lee is moving ahead with Chiraq and reportedly wants to cast to  Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven, and Common. Rumors were swirling that Kanye West would be a part of the cast, but the rapper’s camp shut that down. However, he might be  part of the film’s soundtrack.

In closing, Lee said: “You don’t like it, you don’t like [it]. But wait, see it first.”

Spike Lee’s Upcoming Film ‘Chiraq’ Rubbing Some In Chicago The Wrong Way

April 10th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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KIKA/WENN.com

KIKA/WENN.com

Spike Lee’s film projects can always be assured of inciting some sort of reaction, whether it be controversy or inspiration. His upcoming project, a film on Chicago, is proving to be no different. To be called Chiraq, there is already some conversation about the term.

Some residents and community leaders are concerned that the negativity associated with the term “Chiraq” — a combination of “Chicago” and “Iraq” and calling attention to the city’s violent reputation — could affect tourism, scaring tourists from visiting the city that already has to contend with is image of violence.

It’s really concerned local rapper Aaron Pierce, who has launched an “Anti-Chiraq” social media campaign. “That name does not really give us a positive look. That name belittles our city and I feel like it dehumanizes us.  We are from Chicago. It is not like Iraq,” says Pierce, who also runs a mentoring program for public school students.

Lee meanwhile is moving ahead with the film and word is he wants to cast Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven, Common, and Kanye West. No other details about the film have been released.

Lee didn’t create the term and Chicago has had negative nicknames before, including “Beirut on the Lake” in the 1980s to “Chiberia” during the winter of 2013-14.

“Chiraq” has been used for years but became popular in 2012 when Chicago saw a major rise in homicides.

But despite a drop in crime and violence, both are still major issues in Chicago. There were 407 homicides in 2014. “In the first three months of a cold and snowy 2015, shootings jumped 40 percent and homicides rose about 26 percent compared with the year-earlier period, Police Department statistics show,” reports The Chicago Tribune.

Do you think the term “Chiraq” is offensive?

Celebrity Kickstarters: 15 Winning and Losing Stars

April 6th, 2015 - By Rich
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Some of these celebrity kickstarters soared (hello TLC!) while others totally flopped. Click through to see who cashed out!

All images courtesy of WENN, except where noted

Sources: PopSugar, The Richest

Celebrity Kickstarters: 15 Winning and Losing Stars

Why Ava Duvernay Shouldn’t Take Spike Lee’s Advice

January 19th, 2015 - By Rich
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Ava Duvernay didn’t get a Best Director Oscar nom for Selma and Spike Lee goes ape s**t! should have been the headline of the article your friend sent you.

Your first impression was to go ape shit too because Selma was a fantastic movie and Ava did an amazing job with a story many of us feel like we know and have seen a zillion times. Somehow she made Martin Luther King and the march to Selma seem fresh and relevant today. Not an easy feat.

So to read Spike Lee get all up in arms made sense because it feels like Hollywood trying to keep a great black director down. Until you read his exerpt and, well, things change a little bit.

Of her Oscar ‘snub’ Spike told The Daily Beast,

“Join the club! But that doesn’t diminish the film. Nobody’s talking about motherfuckin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is. Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherfuckin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava today I’d say, ‘You know what? Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.”

Now it starts sounding like another Spike rant, and that’s when things get tricky. First of all, to snub someone means to dismiss or ignore them. If someone doesn’t pick you are they ignoring you or did they just not choose you? There’s a difference. To ignore someone means that you know they’re there and you choose not to see them. To not pick someone is to know they are there and choose not to pick them. They didn’t snub her because the movie is up for Best Picture and Original Song.

Some of America’s greatest directors were up for Best Picture but didn’t get a Best Director nod. You got Frank Darabont for The Shawshank Redemption, Steven Spielberg for both Jaws and The Color Purple, and Bruce Beresford saw Driving Miss Daisy win Best Picture despite his direction not getting an Oscar nod. And you have Spike Lee who is obviously still not happy with his Best Screenplay and Danny Aiello’s Best Supporting Actor nom for Do The Right Thing. He feels he was snubbed. Robbed. Whatever you want to call it, but the danger is in accepting these ideas in the first place.

Whenever you agree with a snub or robbery, you’re giving away your power. You can’t rob a person of something they don’t own. And how can you own recognition being given by someone else? It’s not even possible.

Like a poison, it starts getting in your head and making you do crazy things. Ask Kanye. Remember how he bum-rushed Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV awards because he felt Beyonce was robbed of Best Female Video? People start playing justice police for other people, but it’s really self-serving. Was he really defending Bey or was he still pissed about his 2004 American Music Award loss to country singer Gretchen Wilson? Of the loss Kanye told the press, “I feel like I was definitely robbed … I was the best new artist this year.”

It’s dangerous. Beyonce didn’t need Kanye to point out any injustice and Duvernay doesn’t need Spike. She’s cool. She won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, she was honored with the 2013 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award, and now she’s got a Best Picture Oscar nod for Selma.  If she can see it as they just didn’t pick her for Best Director instead of a snub, it might sting for a sec, but life moves on.

You were reading this article the other day about saving your f*cks for things that really matter. It explained that you can’t go through life all riled up, saying f*ck you to everything and everybody. If Duvernay is smart she’ll save her f*cks for if someone comes into her house and steals her TV or she’s at the store and the lady behind the counter refuses to acknowledge that she’s standing there. That’s a robbery. That’s a snub. But this? This is Hollywood and so what.

Erickka Sy Savané is a freelance writer and creator of THE BREW, a social commentary blog. Before that she was a model/actress/MTV VJ. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Watch The First Trailer For Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-Funded Film, “Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus,” About A Man’s Addiction To Blood

December 3rd, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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We told you last summer that Spike Lee turned to Kickstarter in order to get funding for a new project, once pitched as “The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint.” He was hoping to raise $1.25 million for the film, offering fans all kinds of perks for their donations, including the chance to sit courtside with the die-hard Knicks fan at a game in Madison Square Garden.

Well, Lee reached his goal, and the film was made and finally given the title of Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus. The short description of the film is that it’s a reimagining of the black horror film Ganja & Hess (1973), and is about the addiction to blood. The longer, more interesting description, which comes from Shadow & Act, is this:

“…the film stars Stephen Tyrone Williams and Zaraah Abrahams in what Spike describes as a new kind of love story. Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams) becomes cursed by a mysterious ancient artifact and is overwhelmed with a newfound thirst for blood. He however is not a vampire. Soon after his transformation he enters into a dangerous romance with Ganja Hightower (Zaraah Abrahams) that questions the very nature of love, addiction, sex, and status in our seemingly sophisticated society.”

While I can’t say that I’ve been crazy about the last few Spike Lee joints that have been feature films (I’m a fan of most of his work though), I’ve always been impressed at the fact that Lee gives newer, more unknown actors, the chance to shine. And after watching the trailer, I think it’s beautifully shot and I’m pretty intrigued by the story and the glimpses of it we see in said trailer.

So what do you think? If you like what you see, you can check out the film when it’s released on February 13. Check out our conversation with Lee from last year about the film and the importance of Kickstarter support below:

“I Throw Like A Girl” Watch The Spike Lee Produced Mo’Ne Davis Documentary

October 23rd, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Mo'Ne Davis Documentary

Source: Youtube

“Two boys pitching back and forth to one another and I overhear one of them say ‘I’m Mo’Ne.’ And the other one says ‘No, I’m Mo’Ne.’ We all know that girls aspire to be Mo’Ne but here are two boys talking about what it is to be Mo’Ne and to pitch and perform on that level. And it was so cool, I was so tickled by that.”

This is just one of the stories, City Council Constituent Services Representative, Duwayne Terry told Spike Lee as he was conducting interviews for his Chevrolet produced documentary about Mo’Ne Davis, called I Throw Like A Girl. 

Mo’Ne Davis captured the nation’s attention a few months ago when at thirteen-years-old, she pitched a new hitter in the Little League World Series, throwing at 70 miles per hour. And while she gained notoriety for her success in baseball, Mo’Ne’s favorite sport is basketball. One of her coaches, who first noticed her throwing perfect spirals with a football at seven years old, said she can see the court like a chess board.

And that mental focus and skill doesn’t just exist in her athletic endeavors. In second grade, Mo’Ne left a south Philadelphia public school and moved to a private school where she’s been on the honor roll every year from second to eighth grade.

You might think such a successful child must be intense, especially with all the increased media attention and fame. But that’s not exactly the case. Instead, Mo’Ne says, “I don’t actually think about it. I’m not that serious. For sports, we’re always laughing on the bench. If you watch any of our games, you always see one person laughing.” 

Spike Lee interrupts: “Whoa, whoa hold up, hold up. You’re not serious about sports?”

“I’m serious but it’s not all about being serious and it’s not all about being the best. I mean, you always have to laugh. You’re still a kid and you’re always going to laugh.”

What Mo’Ne does for fun changed the sports conversation and eventually earned her a cover on Sport Illustrated. 

Albert Chen, the author of the cover story said, “13-year-old Mo’Ne Davis, from Springside Academy, bumped Kobe Bryant, NBA MVP, off the national cover of Sports Illustrated. In one week goes from a complete unknown to a curiosity in the sports world, to a national sensation. That’s a first in American sports.”

Mo’Ne doesn’t necessarily see it that way. She wasn’t exactly thrilled about that particular cover photo.

“Just to see my face on here is pretty cool, but not the face that I’m picking.”

Spike Lee: “You don’t like your face on the cover?”

“I mean, I look like a blowfish but otherwise, it’s pretty cool. You can see how much power I put into it.”

Everyone, from her coaches, to her peers to her mother say despite all the attention she’s received, Mo’Ne is the same young woman she’s always been. Her mother, Lakeisha said, “Mo’Ne is grounded, when she’s on the field, when she’s off the field, playing basketball. Mo’Ne is just going to be Mo’Ne. Mo’Ne’s very humble. And as you can see, nothing bothers Mo’Ne. So Mo’Ne’s going to always be that respectful, polite humble child no matter how much this media is attacking her or how much this media want to take pictures, that’s just going to always be Mo’Ne.” 

You can watch the full, short documentary in the video below.

Does Kelly Rowland Have Her Eye On A Donna Summer Role?

September 28th, 2014 - By Courtney Whitaker
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WENN

WENN

Kelly Rowland has the rumor mill spinning this morning. After posting a picture of herself channeling Donna Summer’s signature look, multiple outlets are claiming that Rowland is campaigning for a role as Donna Summer.

The reports could be true thanks to a new Spike Lee movie were Donna is a character. The biopic, Spinning Gold is about Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart. Bogart helped launch a number of musical acts including Kiss, Joan Jett and of course, Donna Summer.

Justin Timberlake is already signed on to play Bogart. What do you think? Could Kelly play Donna Summer?