- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Spike’s lament

Just because more black filmmakers are working today more than ever doesn’t mean enough progress has been made in Tinseltown.

So says Spike Lee, the professional provocateur whose 2004 feature “She Hate Me” drew some of the worst reviews of his career.

The director shared his thoughts on racial equality, Hollywood-style, during a teleconference Monday to discuss Tuesday’s DVD release of “She Hate Me” and the refurbished DVD take on his 1988 quasi-musical “School Daze.”

“Getting a black director is all right, but for me, that’s cosmetic. The much greater impact is with the gatekeepers,” he says of the studio executives who have the final say over which projects get the almighty green light.

“Studios talk a good game about diversity,” Mr. Lee says. “But until we get in those positions, everything else is chump change.”

Other industries, such as sports, are leaving his profession in the dust, he says.

“Let’s be honest. Look at Hollywood and their employment record. They’re way behind sports. In the NBA and NFL, you’ve got black general managers. You don’t see that in the networks or the studios.”

Having blacks in power positions will let more of their stories get told, he says. And it also might stop a few movies that, according to Mr. Lee, shouldn’t have been produced.

“If we had people in the gatekeeper position, I don’t think a movie like ‘Soul Plane’ would have been made,” he says.

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The Wright stuff

Associated Press

Jeffrey Wright will join Ben Stiller in the world premiere of “This Is How It Goes,” a new play by Neil LaBute about an interracial love triangle set in small-town America.

Performances begin March 8 at New York’s famed Public Theater.

Mr. Wright, a D.C. native, is a Golden Globe and Emmy winner for his role in the TV version of “Angels in America.” He also won a Tony award for the same role on Broadway.

Mr. Stiller, the star of the current box-office hit “Meet the Fockers,” has a string of other film successes, including “Dodgeball,” “Meet the Parents” and “The Royal Tenenbaums.”

“This Is How It Goes” will be directed by Tony winner George C. Wolfe, who departs this season as artistic head of the Public, one of the nation’s pre-eminent nonprofit theaters.

Mr. Wolfe also directs Mr. Wright in HBO’s version of the award-winning play “Lackawanna Blues,” debuting Feb. 12 on the cable network.

Grumpy old man

Agence France-Presse

Multiple Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman lamented the state of modern filmmaking, using a promotional jaunt for his latest feature to pan a money-hungry, marketing-focused industry.

“The whole culture” is in the pits, Mr. Hoffman told journalists gathered in London to hear him promote his latest movie, “Meet the Fockers.”

“You go to the cinema, and you realize you’re watching the third act. There is no first or second act,” he said.

Mr. Hoffman, a seven-time Oscar nominee who has won twice, as best actor for “Rain Man” and “Kramer vs. Kramer,” said the quality crisis extends to the stage.

” It’s not just true in the movies; it’s also true in the theater,” he said. “Broadway, and now London, is the same: Special effects are in great demand. It’s not a good time, culturally.”

The 67-year-old actor, who has chalked up a full roster of recent supporting parts, said he had stopped working a few years back because he had “lost the spark I always had.”

“Studios weren’t interested in the kind of films that people of my generation wanted to see,” he said. “I thought I would stop and just try writing and directing. I wasn’t aware of the depression that set in.”

Out of Africa

Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican, will meet the press this morning with newly minted Oscar nominee Don Cheadle, star of the critically acclaimed movie “Hotel Rwanda.”

The pair, just back from a trip to the genocide-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan, plan discussions with Capitol Hill reporters on what they saw during their tour of refugee camps along the Sudan-Chad border as well as what they learned from meetings with regional politicos and humanitarian groups.

Paul Rusesabagina, the character Mr. Cheadle playsin the movie, was also part of the delegation.

Compiled by Scott Galupo and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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