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Spike Lee stopped by Good Morning America on Wednesday, where the filmmaker, who announced Monday that he wouldn’t attend the Academy Awards due to this year’s lack of nonwhite acting nominees, revealed more about his views on the Oscars and diversity issues in Hollywood.
Lee told George Stephanopoulos that he would be going to the New York Knicks game in Madison Square Garden on the night of the awards.
And he insisted that he’s not necessarily calling for others to boycott the show.
“Here’s the thing. I have never used the word ‘boycott,'” Lee said on GMA. “All I said was my beautiful wife Tanya, we’re not coming. That’s it, and I gave the reasons. I never used the word ‘boycott.'”
“It’s like, do you,” he added. “I’m not going. My wife’s not going. Everyone else can do what they want to do.”
In a second appearance on the ABC morning show, to discuss the Michael Jackson Off the Wall documentary he co-produced, Lee told Michael Strahan of an Oscars boycott, “I’m not trying to lead a movement.”
Speaking with Stephanopoulos earlier, Lee declined to say whether he thought host Chris Rock should drop out as some have called for him to do.
“Chris Rock is a grown-ass man. He can do what he wants to do, and I support either way,” said the filmmaker.
As for Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs‘ recent call for changes in the organization’s membership, Lee indicated he’s still waiting for actual reforms.
“When I received my honorary Oscar at the Governors [Awards] in November, she began that night saying this is her plan,” said Lee. “So we can’t say, ‘Hocus pocus, presto change-o,’ and the membership’s going to change overnight.”
He also reiterated what he said in his Instagram post when he announced he wouldn’t be going to the Oscars, that the diversity issue in Hollywood goes back to the studio executives and their decisions about which films to greenlight.
“This whole Academy thing is a misdirection play. We’re chasing a guy down the field, he doesn’t even have the ball. The other guy’s high-stepping in the end zone,” said Lee. “It goes further than the Academy Awards. It has to go back to the gatekeepers. We’re not in the room. The executives, when they have these greenlight meetings quarterly, they look at the scripts and see who’s in it and decide what we’re making and what we’re not making.”
When asked how he would fix that, the filmmaker invoked the NFL’s Rooney rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for open head-coaching positions.
“We need a Rooney rule, some type of rule,” said Lee. “In the NFL, if a head-coaching job opens up or a senior executive position, you cannot hire anyone until you interview minority candidates. And that has increased the number of minority coaches and executives in the NFL, and that should be used.”
But he didn’t specify how that would play out in Hollywood, except to agree with Stephanopoulos‘ prompt that we “need to widen the pool.”
Said Lee: “We can’t go to that old, tired well of, ‘We can’t find any qualified candidates.’ That’s BS.”
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