||It has been suggested that List of awards and nominations received by Spike Lee be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since August 2012.|
Lee in 2012
|Born||Shelton Jackson Lee
March 20, 1957
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
|Residence||New York City, New York|
|Alma mater||New York University,
Tisch School of the Arts
|Occupation||Actor, director, producer, screenwriter|
|Home town||Brooklyn, New York|
|Board member of||40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks|
|Spouse(s)||Tonya Lewis (1993–present)|
|Children||Satchel Lee (b. 1994), Jackson (b. 1997)|
|Awards||List of awards and nominations received by Spike Lee|
Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee (born March 20, 1957) is an American film director, producer, writer, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983.
Lee's movies have examined race relations, colorism in the black community, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues. Lee has won numerous awards, including an Emmy Award. He has also received two Academy Award nominations.
Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Jacqueline Carroll (née Shelton), a teacher of arts and black literature, and William James Edward Lee III, a jazz musician and composer. Lee also had three younger siblings Joie, David, and Cinqué, who all worked in many different positions in Lee's films. When he was a child, the family moved to Brooklyn, New York. During his childhood, his mother nicknamed him "Spike." In Brooklyn, he attended John Dewey High School.
Lee enrolled in Morehouse College, a historically black college, where he made his first student film, Last Hustle in Brooklyn. He took film courses at Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communication from Morehouse. He did graduate work at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Film & Television.
Lee and his wife, attorney Tonya Lewis, had their first child, daughter Satchel, in December 1994. They also have a son, Jackson, born in 1997. Spike Lee is a fan of the American baseball team the New York Yankees, basketball team the New York Knicks, and the English football team Arsenal. One of the documentaries in ESPN's 30 for 30 series, Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks, focuses partly on Lee's interaction with Miller at Knicks games in Madison Square Garden.
In 1985, Lee began work on his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It. With a budget of $175,000, he shot the film in two weeks. When the film was released in 1986, it grossed over $7,000,000 at the U.S. box office.
Marketing executives from Nike[dead link] offered Lee a job directing commercials for the company. They wanted to pair Lee's character, the Michael Jordan-loving Mars Blackmon, and Jordan in a marketing campaign for the Air Jordan line. Later, Lee was called on to comment on the controversy surrounding the inner-city rash of violence involving youths trying to steal Air Jordans from other kids. He said that, rather than blaming manufacturers of apparel that gained popularity, "deal with the conditions that make a kid put so much importance on a pair of sneakers, a jacket and gold". Through the marketing wing of 40 Acres and a Mule, Lee has directed commercials for Converse, Jaguar, Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry's.
As Lee became more well known and his work and comments were followed more closely, he became embroiled in some controversies. After the 1990 release of Mo' Better Blues, Lee was accused of antisemitism by the Anti-Defamation League and several film critics. They criticized the characters of the club owners Josh and Moe Flatbush, described as "Shylocks". Lee denied the charge, explaining that he wrote those characters in order to depict how black artists struggled against exploitation. Lee said that Lew Wasserman, Sidney Sheinberg or Tom Pollock, the Jewish heads of MCA and Universal Studios, were unlikely to allow antisemitic content in a film they produced. He said he could not make an antisemitic film because Jews run Hollywood, and "that's a fact."
In May 1999, the New York Post reported that Lee made an inflammatory comment about Charlton Heston, president of the National Rifle Association, while speaking to reporters at the Cannes Film Festival. Lee was quoted as saying the National Rifle Association should be disbanded and, of Heston, someone should "Shoot him with a .44 Bull Dog." Lee said he intended it as a joke. He was responding to coverage about whether Hollywood was responsible for school shootings. Lee said, "The problem is guns," he said. Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey condemned Lee as having "nothing to offer the debate on school violence except more violence and more hate."
In June 2003 Lee sought an injunction against Spike TV to prevent them from using his nickname. Lee claimed that because of his fame, viewers would think he was associated with the new channel.
Lee sparked controversy on a March 28, 2004, segment on ABC when he said that basketball player Larry Bird was overrated because of his race, saying, "The most overrated player of all time, I would say it'd be Larry Bird. Now, Larry Bird is one of the greatest players of all time, but listen to the white media, it's like this guy was like nobody ever played basketball before him—Larry Bird, Larry Bird, Larry Bird, Larry Bird, Larry Bird."
In October 2005, Lee commented on the federal government's response to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. Responding to a CNN anchor's question as to whether the government intentionally ignored the plight of black Americans during the disaster, Lee replied, "It's not too far-fetched. I don't put anything past the United States government. I don't find it too far-fetched that they tried to displace all the black people out of New Orleans." On Real Time with Bill Maher, Lee cited the government's past atrocities including the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.
At the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Lee, who was then making Miracle at St. Anna, about an all-black U.S. division fighting in Italy during World War II, criticized director Clint Eastwood for not depicting black Marines in his own WWII film, Flags of Our Fathers. Citing historical accuracy, Eastwood responded that his film was specifically about the Marines who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima, pointing out that while black Marines did fight at Iwo Jima, the U.S. military was segregated during WWII, and none of the men who raised the flag were black. Eastwood also pointed out that his 1988 film Bird, about the Jazz musician Charlie Parker featured 90% black actors, and sarcastically said that Invictus, his then-upcoming film about post-apartheid South Africa, would not feature a white actor in the role of Nelson Mandela. He angrily said that Lee should "shut his face". Lee responded that Eastwood was acting like an "angry old man", and argued that despite making two Iwo Jima films back to back, Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers, "there was not one black soldier in both of those films". He added that he and Eastwood were "not on a plantation." In fact, black Marines are seen in scenes during which the mission is outlined, as well as during the initial landings, when a wounded black Marine is carried away. During the end credits, historical photographs taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima show black Marines. Although black Marines fought in the battle, they were restricted to auxiliary roles such as ammunition supply, and were not involved in the battle's major assaults, but took part in defensive actions. Lee later claimed that the event was exaggerated by the media and that he and Eastwood had reconciled through mutual friend Steven Spielberg, culminating in his sending Eastwood a print of Miracle at St. Anna.
During a lecture at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada on February 11, 2009, Lee criticized how some in the black community wrongfully associate "intelligence with acting white, and ignorance with acting black", admonishing students and parents to maintain more positive attitudes in order to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.
In March 2012, after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Spike Lee was one of many people who used Twitter to circulate a message which claimed to give the home address of the shooter. The address turned out to be incorrect, causing the occupants to leave home and stay at a hotel. Lee issued an apology, and reached an agreement which included compensation.
Use of actors
Lee has worked with several favorite actors in his feature films. Joie Lee (Lee's sister) and John Turturro leads the list with nine feature films each, more than any other actors Lee has worked with.
- Besides appearing in the films Summer of Sam and She Hate Me, Victor Colicchio, Michael Imperioli and Michael Genet, co-wrote the screenplays for those films with Lee (Colicchio and Imperioli on Summer of Sam and Genet on She Hate Me). Lee's siblings Cinqué and Joie Lee also contributed to the Crooklyn screenplay, a film loosely based on their childhood.
- Prior to appearing in Lee's feature films, De'Adre Aziza also appeared in the stage musical Passing Strange (2006), which Lee filmed and later released as a documentary in 2009.
- In addition to appearing in two of Lee's feature films, Jim Brown was the subject of the documentary film Jim Brown: All-American (2002).
- Ossie Davis and John Turturro also appeared in the documentary film 4 Little Girls (1997).
- John Leguizamo also starred in the biographical film Freak (1998), documented from the stage play of the same of the same, which Lee directed.
- Bernie Mac appeared in Get on the Bus (1996) and the Lee-directed comedy documentary film The Original Kings of Comedy (2000), in which Mac is one of the four comedians prominently featured.
- T.V. Carpio and Anthony Mackie appeared in She Hate Me (2004) and the Lee-directed television film Sucker Free City (2004). Lemon Andersen, Jim Brown, John Savage and Omari Hardwick also appeared in the latter film, with Hardwick also appearing in Miracle at St. Anna.
- Wendell Pierce also appeared in the Lee-directed documentary film When the Levees Broke (2006).
- Monty Ross, who was a co-producing partner for many of Lee's early films, also starred in Lee's student film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads (1983).
- Roger Guenveur Smith also starred in the television documentary film A Huey P. Newton Story (2001), with Smith portraying Huey P. Newton in the stage play of the same name, which Lee directed.
Public figures as actors
Several well-known public figures have appeared in Lee's feature films portraying characters other than themselves. They include:
- Ray Allen (He Got Game)
- Travis Best (He Got Game)
- Mark Breland (Summer of Sam)
- Jim Brown (He Got Game, She Hate Me)
- Rick Fox (He Got Game)
- Evander Holyfield (Summer of Sam)
- William Kunstler (Malcolm X)
- Nelson Mandela (Malcolm X)
- Bobby Seale (Malcolm X)
- Al Sharpton (Malcolm X, Bamboozled)
- Wyatt Tee Walker (Malcolm X)
Awards, honors and nominations
- 1989, Lee's film Do the Right Thing was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1989. Many people, including Hollywood's Kim Basinger believed that Do the Right Thing also deserved a Best Picture nomination. Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture that year. Lee said in an April 7, 2006 interview with New York magazine that the other film's success, which he thought was based on safe stereotypes, hurt him more than if his film had not been nominated for an award.
- 1997, his documentary 4 Little Girls, about the children killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, was nominated for the Best Feature Documentary Academy Award.
- On May 2, 2007, the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival honored Spike Lee with the San Francisco Film Society's Directing Award. He received the 2008 Wexner Prize.
- "Spike Lee Biography (1956?-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "7". Who Do You Think You Are?. Season 1. Episode 7. 2010-04-30. NBC.
- "SHELTON "SPIKE" LEE '79". Morehouse College. 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- "Milestones". Time. December 19, 1994.
- 7:55:am (2009-10-27). "Black Celebrity Kids,babies,and their Parents » SPIKE LEE AND KIDS ATTEND MICHAEL JACKSON’S THIS IS IT PREMIERE". Blackcelebkids.Com. Retrieved 2012-08-28.
- "Arsenal Supporters Series: Spike Lee". Arsenal.theoffside.com. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "She's Gotta Have It (1986)". Box Office Mojo. 1986-08-26. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
- Elliott, Stuart (July 22, 1991). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: Advertising; Levi and Spike Lee Return In 'Button Your Fly' Part 2". The New York Times.
- "Kindred, Dave; "Mars points NBA to next Milky Way – advertising character Mars Blackmon"; findarticles.com; July 21, 1997". Findarticles.com. 1997-07-21. Retrieved 2011-06-13.[dead link]
- James, Caryn (August 16, 1990). "Spike Lee's Jews and the Passage From Benign Cliche Into Bigotry". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
- May 28, 1999 (1999-05-28). "Spike Lee Says Remark About Shooting Heston Was A Joke - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2013-02-13.
- "Heston was always a man of his words - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2013-02-13.
- "Living foot to mouth". Salon.com. 1999-05-28. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
- Wolf, Buck (December 19, 2002). "Spike Lee Blasts Trent Lott". ABC News.
- Romano, Allison (2003-04-21). "TNN Hopes Mainly Men Will Watch "Spike TV"s". Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- Breaking... - 6/16/2003 - Broadcasting & Cable
- "Spike sues over channel name". BBC News. June 4, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Daniel Sterman (April 13, 2004). "Double Standards". The Columbia Spectator.[dead link]
- J. Colin Trisler (March 24, 2004). "Racial Double Standard. Spike Lee's comments unacceptable". The Daily Reveille.
- "Clip of Lee expressing his views of the Hurricane Katrina and Tuskegee matters on ''Real Time with Bill Maher''". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
- Marikar, Sheila (June 6, 2008). "Spike Strikes Back: Clint's 'an Angry Old Man". ABC News.
- "Eastwood hits back at Lee claims". BBC News Online. June 6, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- Lyman, Eric J. (2008-05-21). "Lee calls out Eastwood, Coens over casting". The Hollywood Reporter, The Daily from Cannes (Cannes) (8): 3, 24.
- Wainwright, Martin (9 June 2008). "'We're not on a plantation, Clint'". The Guardian.
- "Rundles, Jim; "Black Marines Were Fighting on Iwo Jima" at Montford Point Marines". Mpma28.com. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
- "Access Exclusive: Spike Lee On Clint Eastwood: 'We're Cool'" OMG!/Yahoo! September 6, 2008[dead link]
- "Black History Month. Spike Lee to Speak at Concordia University, in Montreal". Tolerance.ca. 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
- De Paula, Bruno (March 3, 2009). "An Afternoon With Spike Lee". The Concordian.
- "Spike Lee apologizes for retweeting wrong Zimmerman address". CNN. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
- Muskal, Michael (2012-03-29). "Trayvon Martin: Spike Lee settles with family forced to flee home". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
- Hill, Logan (2008-04-07). "Q&A with Spike Lee on Making 'Do the Right Thing". New York. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
- ""Spike Lee to Receive the Wexner Prize"; Wexner Center for the Arts". Wexarts.org. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Spike Lee|
- Spike Lee collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Spike Lee collected news and commentary at The Wall Street Journal
- Spike Lee collected news and commentary at The Guardian
- Ubben Lecture at DePauw University
- Criterion Collection Essay on Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing
- Lee's Lens Exposes Inequalities, but he's no Revolutionary by Brendan Kelly, Canwest, April 11, 2009