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Spike Lee On ‘Chi-raq’, Racial Inequality & A Knicks Championship

Larry King NowDec 04 '15

Legendary director Spike Lee discusses the controversy surrounding his new film 'Chi-raq', why he recently called out Hollywood for what he says is racial inequality and whether his beloved Knicks will win a championship under Phil Jackson.

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QUOTES FROM THIS 'LARRY KING NOW' INTERVIEW WITH SPIKE LEE:

*Originally Posted Online on Ora.TV on Dec 4th 2015

"Denzel Washington, Samuel Jackson, Wesley Snipes. They presented the Oscar. I got an honorary Oscar for my body of work. I was humbled. It was a great night."- Spike Lee

"Sports has put this industry to shame, Jackie Robinson, before that Joe Lewis. Sports have gone much further [than Hollywood] in a short amount of time. People just aren't aware of the fact that their office, or workplace, does not look like the rest of the United States. I also said in my speech; this is something the New York Times left out, I said the United States' Census Bureau says by as early as 2023, white Americans will be a minority in this country. The New York Times said, 'Spike Lee' says that."- Spike Lee

"I applaud Cheryl Boone, the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures, who started the night speaking about diversity. She has a five-year plan for the academy to diversify amongst its voting members." - Spike Lee on discrimination in the academy

"Chi-Raq is a term that was invented by local Chicago rappers, combining Chicago and Iraq into Chi-Raq. They felt that their side of Chicago, the south side, was violence. Right now Iraq is safer than the south side of Chicago. We started filming this movie, June 1st, that was the first day of filming, July 9th was the last day. During that time, 331 people got wounded and shot. Sixty-five people got murdered. From June 1st to July 9th... it has escalated since then." - Spike Lee on violence in Chicago

"Chicago has historically had a gang element. We know about Capone, but there were black counter-points to the mob, the mob in Chicago. I think the lack of opportunity, Chicago, it's not Spike Lee saying it, it is a fact, Chicago is the biggest American city that is segregated. A whole lot of factors, I think that today there is a hopelessness amongst young African American men, who feel no one loves or cares about them." Spike Lee

"The cowriter, his name is Kevin Willmott. He wrote this script six years ago, and we tried to get it made, but it didn't happen. This past year I said, let's rewrite it. Let's give it a distinct location, let's take this idea that Aristophanes wrote in 411 BC, but let's make it take place in South Side Chicago, and let's respect Aristophanes, let's keep the verse, because a lot of people are familiar with it, just through rap and spoken word." - Spike Lee on inspiration for style

"The term is satire. In fact, original source material Lysistrata was a satire, written in 411 BC. In fact, a lot of the plays that Aristophanes wrote were satirizing ancient Greece. There are many ways to tell a story, and we felt that satire would be a good way to do this. I would like to pose a question to everyone who thinks I was insensitive. Jennifer Hudson was in this movie, Jennifer lost three family members to gun violence including her mother. Would Jennifer Hudson be in a movie that made fun of her mother and family members being killed? It is a satire." - Spike Lee on defending his film from critics who call it insensitive

"They go to Indiana; you can be in Chicago and in 30 minutes be in Indiana. In Indiana people with fake IDs, they go to these gun shops and gun shows and watch out with assault weapons" - Spike Lee on how guns are obtained illegally in Chicago

"What was tough was getting this film made. Every studio we approached said no, except for Amazon. This is going to be Amazon's first theatrical release, so it will be in the theaters before it goes to Amazon Prime, it open in theaters today before it goes on Amazon Prime." - Spike Lee

"It only takes one yes, that is all you need." - Spike Lee on success

"People have asked me, 'is there anything you have done in your film that you would like to,' as we say in Brooklyn, 'do-over.' My do-over, my first film Larry, a film called 'She's Gotta Have It,' 1986. There is a rape scene; that was just totally irresponsible, immature, stupid. It should not have been in the film; it made light of rape. That would be the one thing that I have done that I regret." - Spike Lee

"For this film, you can not tell in a two minute or three-minute trailer what the film is about. People confuse with the approach comedy vs humor."- Spike Lee

"John Cusack is my man. He is phenomenal in this film. This is the first time we have worked together. A lot of time as friends, but it was the Chicago Bulls-Knicks thing. It was an honor to work with John, and he is great in the Beach Boys film, that is my new man. John Cusack."- Spike Lee

"There was a movie within the NBA 2k16 video-game. So I was one of the writers, and I directed it. It was my first time working with that motion control technology."- Spike Lee

"In 'Do the Right Thing' Frank Sinatra's picture is on the wall, because of Danny Aiello, they're the only Italian Americans on the wall. So in 'Do the Right Thing' his picture got burned. So Jungle Fever, I wanna use, 'Hello Young Lovers,' 'September of My Years,' I want to use three songs. Tina Sinatra, says, 'Spike, my father did not like the fact that you burned his picture.' So I pleaded with them, and we got the songs."- Spike Lee

"Social media is responsible for a lot of the violence in Chicago. It is a vehicle that is used for, you post something Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and you get killed behind it." - Spike Lee on social media's influence on violence

"I am very intrigued by another Brooklyn boy Bernie, but people see him as a socialist, so I am looking for Hillary."- Spike Lee

"Denzel Washington is the Michael Jordan of acting." - Spike Lee