This podcast is supported by Deloitte right now, the world is facing great uncertainty, which makes it challenging to plan a path forward. Deloitte Evolving, Respond, Recover, Thrive collection can help. It features perspectives from deLites business, technology and industry leaders created to help executives stay current on economic shifts, emerging issues and strategic options. The collection of articles and reports is updated daily. See and subscribe at Deloitte Dotcom Slash U.S. Slash covid Hyphen 19. I've seen almost all of Spike Lee's movies, many I watched when they first came out in theaters, remember those that part has certainly changed.
But many of these films feel just as relevant today as they did years ago. Lee's most recent film, The Five Bloods, tells the story of four black veterans of the Vietnam War, along with being a treasure hunt caper. It also explores the trauma of being asked to die for a country that treated them as lesser citizens and also referenced the Black Lives Matter movement. The film premiered last summer in the midst of national protests for racial justice, with Oscar nominations slated for next week and lots of buzz surrounding the five bloods after its snub at the Golden Globes.
I wanted to talk to the famous director about his filmmaking, his thoughts on Hollywood's dreaming and the future of his beloved New York City. But I should have known that any conversation with Spike Lee would start with my least favorite subject. Sports. How are you doing? Good, how are you doing? Swisher, huh? Swisher. Yeah. All right. You were with the Yankees, had a rifle. What's next for Nick? He was a distant cousin.
You guys related, you know, West Virginia. We're all from West Virginia.
So I suppose related. You're related. I think it's got to be. It's got to be DNA. Oh, yeah. We need a Skip Gates either. Yeah, there's a lot of Swishers there and everyone thinks I should play basketball, but I'm literally sports ignorant. But you're going to explain to me what's going on with the Knicks because apparently they're doing well.
Is that on your microphone? Yeah, it's red. It's red. Red, red. Yeah. Well, to me it looks orange. So that's that's one of the Nikola's. Oh is it. OK, Argin Blue, thanks for letting me know. OK, good to know.
I'm the most sports illiterate person ever. So you're going to explain what's going on there in a minute.
But I like the status first because I used to get in this ah my wife all the time.
And she would say, why do you always turn to the back of the newspapers to read the sports section? But if you read the sports section that tells what's happening in the world. Oh, really? Why Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Off-Air.
Billie Jean King. Yeah, I mean Serena. I mean everything that's happened to world usually. In sports gets it first, Agent Orange, when he may I just say that's what you call Trump, you know, they say his name is George. When you demonize Colin Kaepernick for kneeling, when he demonized black NFL players, not football players, and said they were they were unpatriotic. So you got to get your sports game up.
I will try. But why haven't you made a sports movie? Have you made a sports movie? He got game. He got game. That's right. That's right. But not many. You should be making them all the time. I got to diversify. OK, ok. All right. Well, let's just talk very briefly about the Knicks. I do know they're apparently doing well. Is that correct? Does that make you. Whoa, whoa.
That that that choice of word apparently at five hundred.
Right. Something with five hundred in it. One game over. One game over. Is that a good thing. It's better than it is bad. Yes, that's true. You know, I come from San Francisco and the Golden State Warriors are apparently pretty good. Oh, well, they were I mean, they won the world championships. And I not only in areas, but Steph Curry did his thing in the three point contest. So, yes, he won it.
Correct. He won. Yeah, he won. And then who? My son was watching it. I, of course, was upstairs watching the Meghan Markle interview with Harry with Oprah. And my son was screaming downstairs about three point whatever. He's six two and going to be six five.
I'm just glad that your total disinterest in sports did not affect your son.
Well, he is really tall and he plays a lot. So he plays in the neighborhood. We live in Shaw in DC and he loves to play, but he was screaming from downstairs. So what can I say?
So will you be returning to the next game? Yeah. So when the orange and blue had their home games coming up, I will return to the world's most famous arena, the Mecca, Madison Square Garden. I will be there courtside. All right. I've been getting invited by you know, I know a lot of Internet billionaires and they own teams. And I keep getting invited. And I never go like Ted Leonsis. What he owns the Washington something.
The Wizards. Wizards. That's right. The Wizards. Why don't you go? I don't know. I don't know. I can't. When my son becomes a famous basketball player, I'll do so.
No, no, no, no. Let me just say something. All right. OK, don't you think even if you hate basketball, don't you think your son would want to sit courtside when the Los Angeles Lakers come to Washington, D.C.? I guess why? Why you love your son? Well, you know, no, I don't love your son. I do. You almost lost his cause. I no idea. Now, thousands of dollars.
OK, that's another reason not to go it. Ted Leonsis is going to give you two seats.
I'm not going to take free seats from Internet billionaire. Are you kidding me? I sit up in the high seas. That's because New York Times ethic thing. Yes, it's an ethics thing. All right. You'll have to go. Let yourself go. All right. OK. All right. What made you first infatuated with the Knicks? I think you may be their biggest fan. Well, I grew up in Brooklyn and my father would take me to the old master garden and we would sit up in the last row.
Also, I was of the age where the Knicks won their glory years. You wouldn't notice. So I'm not getting mad at you. Hold on. Let me turn this thing off. I'm going to start again. May 8th, 1970, I was at one of the most famous NBA games ever. Game seven, the New York Knicks versus Los Angeles Lakers, who had on a team, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and ruled still Chamblain. The Knicks won and now it's the first world championship.
You have memories. Well, my father, Billy. Great jazz bassist, composer, folk basis, yet a concert that night, the same night, May 1970, and in fact, I got my ticket, my father's lawyer who promised a spike in the series goes seven games. You're going to game seven with me. So my mother said, Spike, you're growing my late mother. She said Spike got enough to make your own decision. I went to the game.
Now, of course, I said my father, I guess he has more concerns. Yeah, but this moment in time, May eight, 1970, I'm going to the game. In fact, I did a film called Crooklyn where the scene is in it.
Your dad composed some music for your movies show. Oh Ho Ho. The plot was not some. My father did the score for all my NYU grad films. They did the score for She's Going To Have It Schooldays Do the Right Thing and mo better blues and my father one time with the top four basis, so. Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary Gordon Lightfoot, Dero Bekele, Josh White, Odetta. So he was a tough guy. And when Bob Dylan went electric, everybody found him.
And my father to this day is not one string, an electric bass. So we will live in a high cotton. My mother had the work. She got a job teaching black literature at St. Anne's, the famous St. Anne's in Brooklyn Heights. So my father, the money wasn't coming anymore. My mother had to work, you know, shit. My father had five kids and the eldest, but we would have starved. My mother didn't work because he was not playing.
It was against his morals. Why he didn't want to play electric bass. You want to play the electric music? All right. What's it going to do? It wasn't going to do it. Well, he did a great job on your movies, but let me finish with the Knicks now.
Before the pandemic start, you got into a beef with the owner of the Knicks. I did read that in the tablet because I do read that over.
Is that done? Well, it's over my part. Yeah. I mean, here's the thing. And thank you. Ask no question, because over that I even wrote the numbers about five twenty, thirty, five hundred and thirty thousand Americans novel with us behind some B.S. from Agent Orange. So you think about stuff like that. Me, I'm sick myself. All that trivial stuff doesn't add up to a hill of beans. So that's the way I'm rolling.
OK, so that's changed. You're just moving on. Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, let's talk about Agent Orange, because you're Mr. MoVida five bloods, which was wonderful. Thank you. It came out last summer on Netflix. It was obviously supposed to be in the theaters.
June, June. That's right. But here's the story, if I might add, please. I have been named president of the jury, the film festival. So the world premiere was going to be in Cannes at the competition. But also with Netflix, we're going to have a small deathcore run before streamed, so once the pandemic happened, we went straight to streaming. Well, let me tell you, it's a movie about four black veterans of the Vietnam War who overnight reunite in an older age and returned to Vietnam.
And they basically go on this hunt for treasure and also the remains of the Chadwick Boseman character who plays, I think, Stormin Norman. Is that correct?
Stormin Norman, when you did this movie, why did you want to do it about Vietnam itself? What was your impetus to setting it there? And with these guys?
This is not original screenplay. The producer, Lloyd Levin, brought it to me and then I said, Kevin Wolmar said, we should do this. I was born in 1957, so 10 years old, 67. You know, that's like the height of the Vietnam War. And a lot of people forgotten that this war or immoral war was the first war that was televised back to American homes. I live in New York, so news is six and 11 and you will see what was happening.
That was not the case. Korean War or World War two. I mean, it was just like that, the technology. But Americans was seen this war every single day, and many people said it started what the concrete when he went to Vietnam and that really set the whole thing in motion. So are seen on television. But I was seeing the whole anti-war movement, too, right here in New York City.
So why do this movie why did you decide this was that important?
I want to do a film that dealt with this immoral war from the viewpoint of the bloods, black men and some women who were shipped halfway around the world to fight in the war. In fact. And it's not just a racial thing. Everybody got affected by that in an immoral war. And the families of sons and daughters who didn't return. And I like to add that the film has bookends. Muhammad Ali. At the beginning, Muhammad Ali lost heavyweight championship belt, was banned from boxing loss, prime years of his physicality.
And Dr. Martin Luther King is, my belief, was assassinated because of that. Dr. King was not really seen as a threat to me by having black folks ride the front of the bus, Montgomery, or be able to sit at counters. But a great line that Chasidic both says and five bloods wars, money and money is war. And it's my belief when Dr. King became a critic of the war, use mess with the money. Wars are run by the war machine.
These American companies, they make trillions of dollars. They don't give up.
So in the end of the movie, though, it is about them searching for money. I mean, that's that's sort of the plot that the insurance searching for these gold bars that they're getting.
But here's that they know. OK, the thing is that I'm going to expand your last question, if I may, please you.
Stormin Norman says this is Chadwick Boseman character for those who haven't seen it. Yes. He says this is ours. He's like reparations. Reparations, so the two prong attack or going back to get the remains Istomin Norman. And number two, his remains are buried near the gold. So those are two reasons to the only two reasons why they are returning. They've never been back to Vietnam. They have not since they left, right. We're talking 50 years later.
So those two reasons that they go back and as. We saw in the great film directed by John Huston, who directed his father what uson and Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, when gold comes into play, all bets are off right now or indeed in that movie.
And you go, you could be all lovey dovey. Gold comes to the equation. Yeah, you turn around, I'm stabbing you back. Another line from where we left, I left this out, not you, when I decided to do this film, I knew right away that one of the greatest albums ever, ever, ever, ever Marvin Gaye's album, What's Going On, would be the spine of the movie. And one of my favorite lyrics is Wars.
Hell, when will it end? When we start getting together again. Marvin Gaye. All right. So The Five Blood, this movie features your famous double dolly shot where the actor is put on a plane slowly wheeled along with the camera. So it looks like they're gliding. Can you talk about first coming up with that which you've used quite a bit, which I love, let the record state.
I did not invent that shot. I don't think you invented it, but you have perfected it. It's become a signature shot. Might say yes. And in the film, MO Better Blues. The first time we did it. Well, I mean, we I'm my great friend, cinematographer Ernest Dickerson. And there was a scene where my character's giant in the film had to walk down a block as I were talking about this. And let's do the double what we do have a name for.
Let's do that shot. I forgot we first saw it and we were doing it not that long at out of film school. And I guess I had a moment. We said, you know what, we're out of film school. We got to use this shot. We're makes a difference, and that is motivated. So during preproduction of Malcolm X, I became very friendly with Dr. Betty Shabazz, Malcolm's widow, and she told me, she said, Spike, I think my husband knew who's going to be assassinated when he went to Oyabun Ballroom that Sunday.
I'm not going to question that. So when she said that to me, I said, how can I convey without him saying to somebody, how can I convey his state of mind? I told his attorneys and right away we said a double dolly shot. How did that convey it from your perspective that that shot does so?
We were just using it. But after we made that decision, I have to have to be a motivation for that shot, not just showing off, like I'm just on. And when you go to film school. Right where you teach right now, 10 o clock tenure, your tenure. Hold up, hold up tenure tenured professor, also artistic director of the Graduate Film School.
Let's not get twisted. I'm not I know your title. All right. But the reason I say that the New York Times article about me is that I have a college degree. I like WCF.
Yeah. You went to with my sons at NYU right now. Yes. But in grad school, I went to Morehouse College.
I went to Morehouse. And then you went to Tisch, right? Correct. Yeah. But Morehouse is my my undergrad. Right.
Delroy Lindo character. He was astonishing. He's always an astonishing actor. He plays a Trump supporter. Let me play a short clip from the beginning of the movie when the four of them are at the bar on The Real Man.
We get back now and again, no more Darnton folks called us baby come, I bought into all that bullshit as you left. Yeah, right. Tom we got these freeloading immigrants off our backs and build that wall. Newroz better wake the fuck up with the quickness. No, no, no, no, no, no. Only that you voted for president Vagg Boasberg. Yeah, but we don't give a fuck. Oh.
So tell me about this character, because even though you refused to say Trump's name, you call him Agent Orange. What was it like to write a character like Paul?
Well. I co-wrote it, Kevin Goolma and I co-wrote the script, and I remember something my mother told my late mother, Jackie said at a very young age. She said, Spike, black people all don't look alike, think alike, act like black folks are not one monolithic group. And so Kevin and I, we had these guys. When you're in war, the persons you live perfectly. Right. Bonds are forged the lifetime. So but it's not interesting.
Everybody is like there's no friction. So, Kevin, I had to think of what is the worst thing we could get this character right. It didn't take long. He voted for Agent Orange and a lot more African-American men voted for him than my sisters. And this is what the appeal was to a lot of people, not just black men like Paul. He played this card of the scapegoat. The reason why you don't have a great life you should have is because it's done a lot of things right.
Which Trump used effectively. Yes. Why does this character support him then? Why did you. He's somewhat sympathetic to it's not most of your characters like this are very sympathetic. I was watching Do the Right Thing last night and I'd forgotten how sympathetic you write all the characters.
And the reason why I do that is because you are being a complex. Yeah, there's a complexity. That's my Brookton for NJT. Come back right there. So as I said before, I gave you the reason why. Black men voted for this guy, but in their own misguided thinking, they're drinking the Kool-Aid agent was not the first person to use the scapegoat playbook, right? Right. Hitler did. Everything that's wrong with our country is because of the Jews.
This is not new. So what to do about it? Anything you just wanted to depict this character. But here's the thing.
No. One of the biggest criticisms, a do the right thing was that Spike Lee, this movie is not where should it be or could it could been because Spike Lee did not give us the answer to how in racism. It's not my job. I think you did.
Actually, when I saw it the second time, I didn't remember it at all the same. It's really kind of funny watching it again. I thought you had enormous sympathy for every single character there and you understood everyone's pain.
And also people really missed out on the title Do the right thing. So the audience is up to the audience to think who's doing the right thing. And, you know, was my job to do that. You know that my job you're just as an artist. My approach. Just hold the mirror. Mm hmm.
Let's talk more about Do the Right Thing, which usually premiered in 1989. The movie is set on the hottest day of the year in Bedford Stuyvesant, a neighborhood in Brooklyn bedside do or die, do or die. And basically the heat increases tensions within the community. And then there's a I think it's Giancarlo Esposito gets angry because the shop doesn't have any black people on the wall of the pizzeria pizzeria, Sal's pizzeria and on their wall of fame, which is all is pretty much Frank Sinatra and and on down on their wall of fame.
Let's go all Italian Americans, Italian Americans. Let's play a short clip of it.
What I tell you about what I tell you about what's you know, why do you like jokes like people not of fucking how fucking funny that junkie music. I'm going to be my music. I wanted it to be about Africa. It's about fucking I want to hear about that scene.
OK, I think this is one of the best examples of how complex this film is. The script I wrote, you have two people who might to the boys look to be in conflict. Let's let's let's dig a little deeper. Sal's famous pizzeria is in the heart of bedside do or die. His customers are black and brown, buggin out problems that Sal's famous pizza in the heart of Bethsaida could die. All his customers are black and brown, yet he has a wall.
Called the Wall of Fame, which says only America tallies on the wall, so they both have to trust me, swisher themselves. Truth is, this is my motherfucking pizzeria.
Yeah, I'll put whoever I want on the wall. He says it.
I've built this motherfucker brick by brick, and this is America and I do the fuck I want to do. And and I was like, look, that may be true, but you livlihood, your business is all from your black and brown patrons. So I respect put some brothers on the wall. Right. So let me let me let me tell another story, OK? So go The Jungle Fever. That film is two contrasting neighborhoods, Bensonhurst. One was a Bensonhurst, the Bensonhurst where Yusuf Hawkins was murdered.
And then you have Harlem and Stevie Wonder to all the songs for Jungle Fever. So that's Harlem. And I wanted. Three songs of Frank Sinatra, hello, young lovers. It was a very good year, and at that they get the other song. So anything you want to do with Frank Sinatra had to go through his lovely daughter, Tina. We've become great friends. So I called up Tina, said, Tina, I need these three songs with Jungle Fever.
She said, Spike, my father's magic. Why is Frank Sinatra mad at me? You want to know why I said why you broke this picture and do the right thing. And to this day, Albatros never said a word. De Niro's never said a word. The late, great Phil Resor level words that resonate with me. But Frank Sinatra was that it? And I said, Will you please tell your father I apologize? No disrespect was meant.
Yeah, she came back apostille mantra. Yeah, my love. Frank Sinatra. My mother, that's all she played in the house, is Frank Sinatra, so I said, Tina, what can I do? He's mad you. But look, why don't you write him a letter? So I wrote the chairman of the board a handwritten 10 page letter to Sinatra, who is the chairman.
That's his nickname. The chairman of the board. Yes, I have. I'm just reminding listeners who may not know your credibility is kind of shaky.
I know he's chairman of the board. I'm Italian American. That would worry why I didn't have to think about it. And what I didn't say. No, no, hold up. Hold up. OK, Miss Swisher. Yeah. How you to think about chairing the board? I do not. You play every I I'm doing explanatory for the list. Don't you know. I wish you got to do a thing with Skip Gates because I got really sick.
Your heritage anyway. Anyway, all blue eyes.
OK, you wrote him a letter and then he said, OK, so we got the song for Jungle Fever. And then on top of that, years later, somehow I read Roger Moore and he told me the story that Frank Sinatra had a screening room in his home in Palm Springs. It every Friday night, you call the studios or film you want to scream. And they would find a printer, a Tony. He Roger Moore was in that club, that elite club.
They'll get invited to these screenings. And one night they screen Malcolm X and he told me, says Spike. Frank Sinatra loved Malcolm X. Oh, there you have it. True story, you shouldn't have earned his picture. So when you think about that movie, when you're looking back on it, you play Mooki, obviously. Mookie, Mookie, do you have a character you think is the most important in that movie? Because it's really an ensemble cast and I'm not going to do that.
All right. But I will say, if you may allow me, I'll plot my back. And that a film on his shoulder, we had the crystal ball, gentrification, climate control. You go down the line. We had the crystal ball. And this is not the first time this happened in my four decade career. And a lot of my close friends have a nickname for me. Your ass was a nickname.
What's your mirror? I don't. What is it? What is it?
Nostradamus Negro does not even close. I was born there. You close. You can go there. You will close. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I gotta give you credit. No one ever said before when I say that with journalist. All right. Negro Damos I.
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More with Spike Lee after the break.
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If you find yourself bewildered by this moment where there's so much reason for despair and so much reason to hope all at the same time. Let me say I hear you. I'm Ezra Klein from New York Times, opinion host of the Ezra Klein Show. And for me, the best way to beat back that bewildered feeling is to talk it out with the people who have ideas and frameworks for making sense of it. From my days at The Washington Post to my time as editor in chief at Vox and now as an opinion columnist at The New York Times, I've tried to ask the questions that matter to the people at the heart of those matters, like how do we address climate change if the political system fails to act?
Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness and what is sci fi understand about our present that we miss? This is the Ezra Klein show and there is going to be plenty to talk about. You can find new episodes every Tuesday and Friday wherever you get your podcasts. So do the right thing was famously left out of best picture nominations for the Oscar instead, Driving Miss Daisy won one of my least favorite movies, one of your more recent movies, Black Clansman, was nominated for Best Picture in twenty nineteen, but Lost to Green Book, another one of my least favorite movies.
So it's basically Driving Miss Daisy, but with a white driver and a black passenger. I got I got a job right now is very quick.
All right, give me combine those two titles and give me the title one film of Driving Driving Miss Daisy and Green Book. Yeah, it. OK, let me think. It could still be Driving Miss Daisy. I don't know.
You got to combine both. OK. All right. All right. Da, da, da. Now, you've got to do it for me, I'm not going to be able to do I'm not doing that, Miss Green. But Miss Green. Daisy what? I don't know.
Come on. There's many, many different combinations, but we'll get along right now.
The point I was making, the parallel shows the US hasn't changed that much, as you want to believe. Were you surprised by that? And again, with the Golden Globes, another snub for the five bloods this year?
Well, I would say that I had an inkling that history repeated with Green Book. Mm hmm. And I've never really paid much attention to Golden Globes, so.
All right. What about these Oscars for the five Bloods? Here's the thing, though. I made this film specifically for the Bloods. Mm hmm. The black soldiers who fought in more war. This film was for the ones who came back alive. Mm hmm. And the ones that came back in the casket.
That's it. So. You're not angry when you don't win, this is an important for you to win, these awards are not at all. Oh, I mean, look, this videotape being angry, so. Right.
Yeah. What about the importance of these awards, do you think? I mean, things have changed this year in the pandemic in terms of moviegoing experiences.
Well, it's been I mean, we'll see what happens with the nominations, but right. In no uncertain terms, we've seen many more voices and films reflecting a better reflection of this mosaic of the United States of America.
How would you portray would you change the portrayals like, for example, of the NYPD and do the right thing in other movies? Would I change it? Do you see him cracking heads during a pandemic? I did. I'm not changing that. How do you feel, then, about the ad campaign that you had done with them, what would you change in that regard? It was first of all, there's a lot of misinformation about this. So please, Illuminatus, ever advertise?
Asacol spiked the debate and the New York police came to me and said, Spike, you have a better understanding of your communities. Can you do a campaign that shows an outreach to the community? Simple as that. I mean, I don't grow up hating police and I'm not and I don't believe in the fun the police either. I just want the police to be righteous. So why not defend the police? Is the debate going on?
But here's what they know. The debate is about the words and I've been very I've learned this my own life. Then I have to be very careful about the words I choose because you had the wrong words, they could be used against you. So it was very easy for people to take those words, to fund the police and make it sound like they're saying we don't need police. Right. We need police. We need righteous police, wolly police who aren't racist, and then this past year, for the first time in ages, the New York City Police Benevolent Society endorsed Agege and then another policeman got suspended for using the walk, the loudspeaker on his cop car while on duty in uniform, saying 20 20.
So what reforms are you looking for?
Look, I don't have my my documents in front of me, but it's got to change. It's got to change. There just some fundamental changes that have to happen to have a more righteous that police department, not just in New York City, but all of the United States of America.
So when you say change, what change do you mean? Do you have ideas of change or just that it has to change? I think that they have to relook at the budgets of these police departments. And so I hear a lot of times that policemen say we're not equipped to deal with mentally disturbed people. Yes, indeed. Well, let's take some of that budget and give it to departments that can deal with that. That's one thing. All right.
So when you feel that you are critical of them, you also work with them and you want them to be better. If they came to you today, to your advertising company today, would you work with them again?
I'll have second thoughts because I will make them look a do the right thing. Not that much has changed. All right. Let's switch talking about what you're doing in Hollywood now. I asked about the future of Hollywood. The five bloods have been released directly to Netflix. You're also producing a new project them. And I'm going to pronounce it wrong. I hope I don't. Gordon Hemmingway and the realm of Cooloola.
Are you one of those directors? Is this for old Hollywood big glamorous premiere nights? Do you miss that? Or being in physical theaters, how do you think the changes are going to affect Hollywood?
Well, I don't know when. In fact, they just opened last weekend here in New York City. And I knew going in that people are still like, I don't know. So wait and see. But there will come a time in the future where the masses will pack what is once again, I disagree with you. You do? Yes. Why?
Because I think they like the screens at home. I think they've gotten used to them. I think that movie theater experience has declined rather precipitously as a product. I don't think there's anything wrong with the movies. I think the the experience of going to the movie theater is not the same.
Well, I beg to differ. OK, you as a director think it's critically important.
I think that not not every film, some films, you know, before they say, remember, before the line was, I'm not going to theater, I'll read it or I'll see it on the plane, see it on a plane that you know what I'm talking about.
Yeah, but I know next Christmas I would be in a theater for the first show to see Steven Spielberg's West Side Story. The first time I see that is going to be the theater.
And how do you feel that Hollywood companies are shifting like what Warner did by putting the slate both places they're trying to catch up to Netflix.
Simple, is that what do you think of that?
What do you think of Netflix? They have one hundred million dollar global fund to increase outreach to underrepresented communities on top of five million. It plans to donate to organizations, probably one of the most diverse slates in the entertainment business. So how do you feel about this is sort of the future? They are the future pointing the way to the future?
Well, I think that to Serranos. Scott Stupor and tendo my brother Tendo know that in addition to this being the right thing to do is also profitable, profitable and good business. That's what he says.
But they are pointing the way to streaming. All the big studios are now streaming is where all the businesses for them, they're trying to catch up.
The Netflix Netflix was innovative and was somebody breaks through. Israel is playing catchup, right? Is that the way of the future that they will be streaming and in theaters at the same time?
How do you feel about that as a big director that's giving the people a choice? Now, here's the thing, though. It's really generational, too. For example, we have a generation of reflection, cinematography. Spike is showing me his phone. Yeah, we have a generation of people who grew up. Watch movies on this cell phone and some people watch stuff that's not even hardstyle the way it was shot. Yeah, that just that pains me.
Pains you. We have people who were watching Star Wars Close Encounters and they were going deep to like. Lawrence Arabia, Bridge River Kwai, A Doctor Zhivago, maybe going that deep, I'm talking about your current stuff. Did you watch Horizontal Watch like that? So you're not happy about that?
What about the people you teach? I mean, your own you know, you have many students. How are they looking at it?
Well, they get indoctrinated into the phone, into the world of digital.
I preach the gospel. I'm also like to say I'm very happy about two of my former students. Yeah.
Chloe Chloe Zao, the director of Nomad Land, wonderful movie, and also Chaka Khan, Judas the Black Messiah. Now, I'm not trying to say I was the only teacher there. And why you go to film school, the best film school in the world. Nonetheless, I'm proud that there are two films, a really killing it, killing it. That's worse than killing it. But what do you lead the Geof K l in apostrophe killing, killing, killing with an apostrophe.
All right. What are they doing that's important from your perspective. They're telling great stories, and I always felt that that's what great directors do, they tell stories.
OK, so when you think of these upcoming directors, these young and upcoming directors, what is their future look like? Especially you've got you mentioned to owe their futures right. Why is no one. Because there's more places. To go to more and more places to Creadon, yes, before at the studio said not project you up the creek, right. So they have more choices.
How do you feel about those choices? I want to ask you the influence of platforms like Twitter or there's all kinds of places that people are publishing on YouTube, all kinds of places. So do you see promise for these is becoming creative platforms or are they more marketing?
Oh, no, no, no. People are making feature films and iPhones, so. And that's great. You know, why should you be denied?
Certainly for young filmmakers, why she did that had the chance to express herself, because you have millions and millions of dollars waiting to finish up, asking a couple more questions, you're currently directing a documentary called NYC Epicentres nine to twenty twenty one and a Half, which looks at New York City's recovery from 9/11 and its experience through the covid-19 pandemic. What spurred this idea for you to use these two events as bookends?
I'm a New Yorker. Love, New York was born Atlanta, Georgia. But grew up here in the People's Republic of Brooklyn, New York, public school, kindergarten, the John Do the high school Coney Island. I love New York, loves diversity, is energy. And I love New York as simple as that.
So did you shoot any scenes this week? Can you give us a sneak peek? Oh, this past weekend. We I can't do that now. OK, I'll tell you. So we've interviewed over 200 people.
Wow. To compare that to both 9/11 and.
Yeah, there are there are parallels are stuff to what's the parallel, how people said New York City would be dead at the 9/11 and people say not currently. Mm hmm.
I want to finish up with the New York mayoral election that's happening. You narrated a campaign announcement video for Ray McGuire, the former vice chairman of Citigroup. What convinced you that Ray is the one to rebuild New York?
Well, you know, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done here in this city. Hmm. And I'm a long time friend of the family. And, you know, that's that's the answer.
That's the answer over other candidates, more progressive candidates like Maya Wiley or Diana Morales, for example.
Look, there's many, many candidates who are the people to look at. Right. So by me narrating this, I don't think I'm saying, like, people shouldn't do their due diligence and choose the best person, you know, who they think is right.
Do you have any thoughts on Andrew Yang, this big giant smile? Next question.
Next question. So let me ask you, when you think about New York and what you're going to be doing next, what should we expect from the next era of Spike Lee?
Well, what you mentioned is documentary. The film I'm making is is something else. And it's about you that you have come quicker than that. All right. All right. Let's cut out that that that 12 hour pregnant pause right there. What I will answer my next film, Knock on Wood, will be my first musical. Oh, all singing and dancing musical. And The Audience is an article that appeared in Esquire magazine articles about how Bagheera. Came to be why?
Why are you laughing? I'm excited, I'm so excited. Well, you laughed. Well well, let me tell you the word Viagra makes anybody laugh. You're not the only person to laugh, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're not the only one. OK, well, you know what?
I'm open minded here on this one.
I feel like you could do it. So last question. The Knicks are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference. They tell me my producers do. What do you think are the chances they will make the playoffs this year?
Oh, we're making it. Oh, really? Are the blue skies OK? Again, we're making again, there's been a drought, OK, drought.
And they're making and you're going to be courtside in the world's most famous arena, the Mecca, Madison Square Garden. All right then, Mr. Lee, thank you. This has been a delightful conversation, I've really enjoyed myself. Thank you. Thank you. It was oh, what? One last. Go ahead. What's your son's favorite NBA team?
What is LeBron James? Oh, my God. I'm sorry, that one, you don't know what team LeBron James plays for. He loves LeBron James. He was. What team does he play for? I'll give you a clue. Like their uniforms are purple and gold. Lakers it's got to be the Lakers. Lakers? What city is that? Los Angeles.
Oh, look, anyway, thank you so much.
I appreciate it all. So I want you to know that I do listen to a podcast and keep doing the right thing.
I'm not as bad, though. I know is what what your to say, Yoda. What? I don't know what Star Wars. I know who he is.
Thank you. Is that he. Oh, lots of things. Don't get me mixed up with the pronouns. What are you going to say. Lots of things. We don't know the gender yotel. What he said. I understand. I don't know what you would have said. No, try.
Do. Oh right. OK, I will. I'm on it. I'm on it. All right. That's a good day.
Swayze, a production of New York Times opinion, it's produced by name Raza Urbani, Matt Quong, Daphne Chen and Vishakha Darba, edited by Nyima Rozz and Paula Schoeman with original music by Isaac Jones, mixing by Eric Gomes and fact checking by Kate Sinclair and Michelle Harris.
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