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Spike Lee to boycott Oscars ceremony, blames studios for lack of diversity

In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 photo, filmmaker Spike Lee poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. Reflecting on his career as he prepares to accept an honorary Oscar, the 58-year-old suddenly stands up and bounds around as he considers various ideas, at times bellowing so exuberantly, it echoes. Lee laughs as easily as he gets serious, and says he’s profoundly touched by the film academy honor he’ll receive Saturday, Nov. 14, at the seventh annual Governors Awards. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

CHRIS PIZZELLO/INVISION/AP

By DAVID NG | Los Angeles Times | Published: January 18, 2016

The outspoken filmmaker of “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” was a recipient of an honorary Oscar in November, and he was expected to attend Hollywood’s biggest night at the Dolby Theatre in February.

On Monday, Lee asked on his Instagram account: “how is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders in the acting category are all white?”

He added: “For too many years when the Oscars nominations are revealed, my office phone rings off the hook with the media asking me my opinion about the lack of African-Americans and this year was no different.”

Lee said that he “means no disrespect” to the Oscars host Chris Rock and producer Reginald Hudlin, or to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who are all African-American.

“As I see it,” he wrote, “the Academy Awards is not where the ’real’ battle is. It’s in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. This is where the gate keepers decide what gets made and what gets jettisoned to ’turnaround’ or (the) scrap heap.”

The filmmaker’s boycott comes after a strong public backlash following Thursday’s announcement of the Oscar nominations.

Many news outlets, including The Los Angeles Times, highlighted the fact that all 20 acting nominees are white. The Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite also saw a comeback as people took to the social media platform to express their anger.

Lee’s announcement comes after a social media message from Jada Pinkett Smith in which the actress said that she would not attend or watch the Oscars this year.

On a recent video posted to Facebook, Pinkett Smith, who is the wife of “Concussion” actor Will Smith, said that the academy has the right to acknowledge and invite whomever it chooses.

But she said that “begging for acknowledgment” diminishes the black community. “We are a dignified people,” she said.

“Concussion” failed to land any Oscar nominations this year.

Lee’s latest movie, “Chi-Raq,” was released late last year and earned some of the strongest reviews that the director has received in years, but also failed to receive any nominations.

The New York filmmaker, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, has been nominated twice but has never won a competitive Oscar.

When he accepted his honorary statuette at the Governors Awards in November, Lee gave a speech that was critical of the studios and spoke about the lack of black executives in positions of power in Hollywood.

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©2016 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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