Spike Lee issues challenge to the media Director prefers black journalists

October 30, 1992|By New York Times News Service

HOLLYWOOD -- Four weeks before the opening of his widely anticipated film "Malcolm X," Spike Lee, the director, has laid down a challenge to newspapers, magazines and television stations around the country. He has told them that he prefers black journalists to interview him.

The request has touched off a storm.

Mr. Lee's request was rejected Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times but met with approval by Premiere magazine and some other journals.

[The Sun has requested an interview with Mr. Lee, but has not received a response yet.]

Warner Bros., which is producing "Malcolm X," emphasized that it supported the often-provocative Mr. Lee and insisted that he had not set down a rigid rule barring whites from interviewing him about the movie.

Mr. Lee, in a telephone interview, spoke heatedly about his request for black interviewers. "I'm doing what every other person in Hollywood does: They dictate who they want to do interviews with," he said.

"Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, whoever. People throw their weight around. Well, I get many requests now for interviews, and I would like African-Americans to interview me."

He added: "Spike Lee has never said he only wants black journalists to interview him. What I'm doing is using whatever clout I have to get qualified African-Americans assignments. The real crime is white publications don't have black writers, that's the crime." Mr. Lee said black journalists would be more responsive and sympathetic to the events of "Malcolm X," starring Denzel Washington as the slain black leader.

The 3-hour-21-minute film opens on Nov. 18.

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