All Articles Tagged "spike lee"

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


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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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?

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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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?

NYPD Won’t Do The Right Thing: Spike Lee Claims Eric Garner Is A Modern Day Radio Raheem

July 25th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From BlackVoices 

After a disturbing video of New York resident Eric Garner being placed in a chokeholdand restrained by police went viral, critics have publicly spoken out against theNYPD’s repeated examples of police brutality and use of excessive force particularly in inner city communities. On the video, Garner, an asthmatic and father of six who family and friends described as a “gentle giant,” is seen telling cops that he can’t breath and appears unresponsive moments later. His cause of death is reportedly “pending further studies.”

The chilling video not only provoked anger, but also possessed a troubling resemblance to a scene out of a movie — to be specific, Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” Garner’s apparent death by chokehold harkens back to the scene in Lee’s film where character Radio Raheem is choked to death by police, reiterating how the director’s art truly imitates life.

Read more about Spike Lee and the Eric Garner case at 


“It Was Just Totally Stupid” Spike Lee Talks Rape Scene In “She’s Gotta Have It”

May 15th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks

Source: 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks

Hollywood loves to paint Spike Lee as the angry, black man director. But in this interview with Deadline, he proves to be quite introspective. He spoke about everything from fighting the studios to make Malcolm X to racist film critics who believed and wrote about their theories that Do The Right Thing would incite race riots in theaters across the country. But one of the most poignant moments of the interview,came at the very end when the interviewer asked him about his regrets.

Initially Lee said he didn’t have any and then he retracted his statement.

Lee: My wife has told me on occasion that I can be my own worst enemy, and she is a smart lady. But I don’t really have any regrets. Check that. You know what my biggest regret is?


LEE: The rape scene in “She’s Gotta Have It.” If I was able to have any do-overs, that would be it. It was just totally…stupid. I was immature. It made light of rape, and that’s the one thing I would take back. I was immature and I hate that I did not view rape as the vile act that it is. I can promise you, there will be nothing like that in She’s Gotta Have It, the TV show, that’s for sure

If you recall the in the film, Nola Darling, the protagonist, is dating and sleeping with three men. Though she’s open and honest about the predicament, it presents a bit of a problem with her beaus.

One night one of the boyfriends, Jamie comes over. Now, Jamie has told Nola all along that he’s not a fan of the arrangement. Instead of breaking up with her, he comes over to her apartment with the intent to seduce her. He ends up raping her.

The scene has left many audience members and critics feeling everything from uneasy to outraged for decades now, considering it was Lee’s first film. Many felt like Lee was sending the message that since Nola was sleeping with three men simultaneously that she was loose and somehow deserved this type of treatment.

I’m happy to know that after 30 years and a lot more maturity, Lee sees the error in his ways. And don’t think I say this as a rationalization. We can all agree he was wrong. The thing is though, the topic of rape is just now, like within the last three years, making its way to mainstream, public discussions. Today, there is still a lot of ignorance about what constitutes rape, so I can imagine that the climate thirty years ago was far worse. Either way, it’s good that Lee acknowledged this so future audiences and future filmmakers don’t look at this movie and think the type of message he sent back then was ok.

What do you think about Spike Lee’s comments to Deadline? Were you bothered by the rape scene in She’s Gotta Have It?


Spike Lee Adapting “She’s Gotta Have It” Into TV Series For Showtime

May 6th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Island Pictures

Island Pictures

I’m quite excited about this as both a Spike Lee fan, and a HUGE fan of She’s Gotta Have It, which is on my DVD shelf right now.

According to Deadline, Spike Lee has been given the green light to bring She’s Gotta Have It to Showtime as a half-hour series. Of course, Lee will be in the director’s chair, and he will also write the show. According to the report, the series will take a modern look at the characters of Nola Darling and her love interests. Deadline also says that the project “will explore Lee’s unique and provocative points of view about race, gender, sexuality, relationships, and the gentrification in Brooklyn.” 

Lee has been very outspoken about his disdain for all the gentrification going on in Brooklyn, saying this (as well as a lot of other thought-provoking things) during a talk at the Pratt Institute for Black History Month:

“I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now sh*t gotta change because you’re here? Get the f**k outta here. Can’t do that!”

With that in mind, I’m excited to see how he’ll tackle this very real issue for TV. SGHI was released in 1986, and has had a big cultural impact. While it might not be as recognized and culturally significant as say, Lee’s Do The Right Thing, it still opened doors for young black filmmakers in the late ’80s and onward who were looking to discuss aspects of black life that aren’t generally documented. Plus, it was Lee’s first feature length film, and it was arguably ahead of its time.

And how can you not love a movie that introduced us to the character, Mars Blackmon (“Please, baby, please, baby, baby, baby please!”)?

Are you interested in checking out this adaptation for TV? Talk about it below.


Livin’ Large! 10 Celebs Who Are Selling Their Extravagant Homes

March 19th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Maybe it’s too big? Or perhaps they want something new? Who knows! But for some reason or another, a slew of celebrities are currently selling their lavish homes as they eye new digs that are more befitting of their needs.

In any case, the wealthy elite can’t wait to get their hands on these luxury estates — they can easily impress their snooty rich colleagues by adding “Hey guess what? [Insert impressive name] lived here!” Let’s take a look at the lavish celebrity homes that are currently up for grabs.