tv Our World With Black Enterprise CW July 19, 2009 6:30am-7:00am EDT
on this on-location edition of "our world with black enterprise." famed director spike lee is making news, politics and tyler perry. >> i still think that a lot of stuff that's on today is buffoonery, and i know it's making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. >> spike lee, live and candid up next. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
from the start of his movie career with "she's got to have it" to his war story "miracle at st. anna," legendary filmmaker spike lee knows the only way to control image is to control the way it's made. he's always made films his way. i recently sat down with lee at the 14th annual entrepreneurs conference in detroit for a frank discussion about the struggles he faces making movies. what's wrong with the industry today, the election of president barack obama and why image is so important. let me ask you before you get in-depth with some of the other things. >> when you hear people now talk about iconic, when you look back at the breadth of your work, do you see it that way? >> we still have a lot more work to do. no, i have not stopped. if you count the documentary films, we've done, like, 24 and
you just have to keep going. >> sheldon jackson-lee -- >> what's so funny? >> you all didn't really think it was spike, did you? 1957, atlanta, and then you moved to new york city. >> brooklyn, new york. brooklyn. in the house. how much of what we know is a southern young man or are you through and through brooklyn? >> like most -- not like most, but like a lot of people, african-americans lived in chicago, detroit, new york, summertime your parents sent you down south. so many summers it was split up. it was spent half with my father's mother which is in snow, alabama and the other was spent in atlanta, georgia with
my mother's mother, and she's the one that put me through morehouse and the nyu graduate film school. she lived to be 100 years old and she's an art teacher. she taught art for 50 years and the south and for 58 she never had one white student because of segregation, and a lot of white students missed out on a great teacher. anyway, she saved her social security checks for 50 years and used that money to send her grandchildren to college. so since i was the oldest i had first dibs. >> when you read about spike lee often in the media, it is said the lead tag line controversial. do you accept that and do you buy that? >> i think that people are very lazy today.
journalists, so instead of trying to be creative or do their job, it's easy to use a one-word label to define one person. how can you use one word to define anybody and the subject matters that we've done in my films, i don't think they're controversial. i don't think racism is controversial. it's thought provoking, you know? if you looked at how we dealt with that in "do the right thing," "jungle fever" and "malcolm x," i don't think it was controversial. we looked at what i feel are superficial differences that keep us being a more unified people. superficial differences based upon skin complexion, hair texture, class, that's not controversial. >> to a great degree, spike, you have gone around hollywood to get movies made.
do you recent that with your track record that there are a number of movies? i know that you continue to look to be made that are perhaps a different ilk, different color and different hue and you don't have to sell it in the same way. well, i still think that with material that is deeply rooted in african-american history, it is still harder to get that stuff made. we have malcolm x made and the producer, marvin worth who braut bought the rights from the late, great shabbaz and he got it made 20 years before he and i did it. it took 20 years to get that made. >> you as a, quote, celebrity director, do you like the fact that you have become a sheb rid along with being a director. >> i don't consider myself a
celebrity. >>, but you are one. >> as i said before i don't consider myself a celebrity. i consider myself an artist, a fi filmmaker and that's a big difference. i'm not trying to get on tmz. but the reason why people might think i'm a celebrity is because most directors, you don't know who they are. most people don't even know what steven spielberg looks like, but you know what woody allen looks like because he's appeared in his films like alfred hitchcock or he's made a cameo with his films, plus the character i play, mars black in "she's gotta have it." that whole thing with nike was a mistake. i played this character mars black who wore nikes and even when he made love to nola, he
didn't take off his jordans, he kept them on and two kinds of nikes, advertising agency kennedy, they saw the film and went to michael jordan and said we should do this. and, of course, mike didn't know who i was. he had not seen the film yet and he could easily have squashed that and just gone with some, whoever the hottest white director was out at the time, but he gave me a shot and so at that point, you know, we did, like, eight years. that really blew -- nike blew up after that. people don't give philip knight credit for that because with the exception of aunt jemima and uncle ben's -- uncle ben's rice, white america has never really put a black person as a face of their company and philip knight
did that with nike. >> it answers one of the questions that i had, and that is whether or not that was a calculated decision to brand marvin -- >> no, it was not. the only reason i was in "she's gotta have it" because we couldn't afford to pay anybody else. i don't even like acting. a lot of this is on us, you know. we -- you vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. you vote with your time, sitting in front of the idiot box. ♪ ♪ come on in. you're invited to the chevy open house. where getting a new vehicle is easy. because the price on the tag is the price you pay on remaining '08 and '09 models. you'll find low, straightforward pricing.
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much big are. there were numbers that we weren't diversified in our community yet. there are certain images whether they be in plays or movies or music that we flock to whether we like to admit it or not. i'm wondering is that just the black middle class saying oh, no, that's not what we want, but a lot of us are wanting it? >> well, i mean, this is a complex subject because each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavor, but i still think that a lot of stuff that's on today is coonery buffoonery and i know it's making a lot of money and it's breaking records, but we could do better. that's just my opinion. i'm a huge basketball fan and when i watch the games on tn it, i see these two ads for these two shows and i'm scratching my
head. you know, this is -- we have a black president. you know, we're going back to mad time marlin and sleep and eat? >> yet, if those films, i mean, we're talking about tyler perry at this point. >> no, no, i mean, look. i'm not saying we're talking -- >> let's not give them fodder for tabloid. i'm not saying we're talking about tyler perry, but those are the shows we're talking about, if we're talking about that and we look at the numbers that come and see his movies and view the shows on tbs, my question is is that, in fact, maybe what black america wants to see? >> a large part. >> i hear a lot of nos and yet there are a lot of people watching it. >> here's the thing, though, because we've had this discussion back and forth because when john singleton.
when people came out to see "boys in the hood" and he did "rosewood" and nobody showed up. so a lot of this is on us. a lot of this is on us, you know. we -- you vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. you vote with your time, sitting in front of the idiot box and the man has a huge audience and tyler is very smart. he started out, you know, with these plays and church busses would pull up packed and he's parlayed it into a, you know -- bought his own jet. if you can buy a jet, you've got money. at the same time, for me, just
imagery is troubling. >> is there a disappointment from you as a director and an african-american that "miracle at st. anna" won't get the same audience as others you'll make. >> dvd is a director's best friend. so a lot of people have come up to me and said they liked it a lot and for whatever reason they didn't get to see it in the theater, but they definitely got the bootleg or watched it on television, pay-per-view, and even if nobody showed up, i wanted to make that film because hollywood historically has omitted the contribution of 1.1 african-american men and women who fought and died for this country in world war ii.
and i just got tired of seeing these films, again and again and again which does not give any love to us. the first person that died for this country was a black man, christmas addux. we've been -- we're more patriotic than anybody. when i say something -- >> but the media views you that way. >> i never, ever say this is spike lee speaking on behalf of 45 million negroes. >> right. ♪ ♪ ♪ come on in. you're invited to the chevy open house. where getting a new vehicle is easy. because the price on the tag is the price you pay on remaining '08 and '09 models.
you'll find low, straightforward pricing. it's simple. now get an '09 malibu 1lt with an epa estimated 33 mpg highway. get it now for around 21 thousand after all offers. go to chevy.com/openhouse for more details. in 1977, in johannesburg, south africa, an 8-year-old boy picked up the game of golf from his father. by the age of 9, he was already outplaying him. the odds of this gentle lad winning the junior world golf championships
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i'd like to make an appointment to see the doctor. announcer: to learn more about captioned telephone, call 1-800-552-7724 or go to our website. i'll see you at 3:00! announcer: captioned telephone - enjoy the phone again! get gold bond anti-itch cream. works on itch and irritation fast. got an itch? gold bond anti-itch cream. the quick fix for almost every itch. let me take you to politics. you've been very outspoken over your years and to a great degree become a de facto, if nothing else spokesman for black america. well, again, spike, you may not accept it -- >> okay, baby. >> let me get the question out. >> when i say something -- but
the media views you that way. >> i never, ever say this is spike lee speaking on behalf of 45 million negroes. >> right. >> but you and i both know -- >> it is just my opinion. >> you and i both know that because of where we are we are allowed to give voice and we are seen rightly or wrongly, as spokespersons for those 45 million negroes. >> that doesn't mean you have to accept that. >> no, and i'm saying was, my question was do you accept it. do you like it? question mark. >> again. i've never, ever thought i was a spokesperson for us as a people. so while i've said stuff that's been my viewpoint and i'm only speaking for myself. >> you and i were together in denver during the democratic convention and of course, at the nation's capital during the inauguration. what was it for you to be on the
front lines of that, to see what i think most of us in this room believed we would never see in our lifetime. >> it was really witnessing history. i mean. it was being alive when april 15, 1947 when jackie robbiinson broke the color barrier and joe lewis knocked out snellin. when jackie robinson played for the dodgers every african-american in this country was praying for him. when you win in black communities, not just in detroit, chicago, all over the world will come out of the house after listening to joe knock out those guys on the radio and come out and celebrate. when magic's lakers beat the
celtics. it was different last year. last year was different because i've never seen so many black people root for the celtics last year. i'm talking about the lakers of kareem and magic, and versus mchail and down the line, black folks wanted the lakers to kill themeses. >> collectively -- you talk about how that's a shared community and what do you think about what america has to take from this election. >> what if we miss it? >> there's this phrase coming up now called post-racial something and it's the craziest thing i've ever heard of that because barack obama, barack hussein -- we can say the middle name now
hussein. it's all right. >> now that he's in, we cansey say it. >> hussein has become the 44th president of america like everything that's been delivered like there's no more racism and no more prejudice and we're just -- you know, we've been delivered. that's not the case at all. we have to stay vigilant. there's still more african-american men incarcerated than enrolled in colleges and universities. and the life expectancy. we live in a time when young black men say they're okay with the fact that they might not live past 18 years old. any time our young black men think that, then you know something's wrong where they don't expect to live past 18, and they're okay with it.
and we were talking about it before where detroit, for many years had the position of homicide and you've been subplanted with new orleans and i think it was chicago and we are just killing each other and it's genocide. it's genocide. a lot of it is fueled by many, many different factors and we have to turn it around if we're going to survive as a people. >> we should note, and i say this having been in this business a long time and seeing directors and actors and artists come and go. to stay in this business and to stay on top of this business, particularly to be african-american takes a whole lot. so we appreciate every time you put something out, man. you know, we'll be behind you all of the way. we appreciate mr. spike lee. >> thank you very much. ♪ >
that's it for this edition of "our world" with black enterprise. for more information go to ourworld.black enterprise.com. i'm ed gordon. thanks for making our world, your world. (female narrator) from jennifer: a microfiber sofa bed. just $299, only at jennifer. $299. jennifer: the only place to buy a sofa bed.