Spike Lee Talks New Film ‘Red Hook Summer,’ The ‘New’ New York and Linsanity

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By: Adelle Platon / July 9, 2012

Spike Lee has never been one to shy away from an in-depth conversation. In his latest sitdown with Vulture’s Will Leitch, the NYU professor weighed in on the state of New York, the Knicks’ asian sensation and his upcoming film ‘Red Hook Summer.’ Check the highlights below.

Returning To His Roots in ‘Red Hook Summer’:
“I am going to try to shake the narrative as much as I can. This is not Spike going back to his roots. Red Hook Summer is another chapter in my chronicles of Brooklyn. I am a professor at NYU—I’ve been one the last fifteen years—and one of the courses they are teaching in cinema studies this summer is “Scorsese’s New York.” The postcard has a map of Manhattan and a dot where each Scorsese film took place. For me, it’s Brooklyn. She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, He Got Game, Clockers, Crooklyn, and Red Hook Summer

His Empire State of Mind:
“Look, there are pros and cons. Is [New York] safer than it was back when Scorsese made Taxi Driver? Yes. But a lot of people liked 42nd Street better the way it was. New York City, I feel, is the greatest city in the world, but it will not be that anymore if it is only rich people here. And people want to stay here, but they cannot afford it. People have to be able to feel that they can afford to live here and their children get a good public-school education. How safe you are in New York depends what neighborhood you live in. Now I would tell you, sir, the Upper East Side is more safe than Brownsville, Brooklyn. The Upper East Side is more safe than East New York.”

On Linsanity and the NY Knicks:
“That was as loud as I have ever seen the Garden. [Mike] D’Antoni as an act of desperation said, “You go in.” The Lakers game, that was bananas. What I love was that Sports Illustrated cover where Jeremy Lin is going down the lane and he is surrounded by five Lakers and he is the only Knick on the cover. There are five Lakers converging on him, and he made the layup, too. When you are seven-seven, I do not care who you are, you are a basketball player. But Lin, he went to Harvard and got cut twice. He got cut from the ­Houston Rockets on Christmas Eve. Yeah, it was sad [to see D’Antoni go]. Most of the time I am not happy when someone gets fired. I will probably find out, now that the season is over, what actually happened.”

The Price of His Season Tickets:
“It is public knowledge. I try not to remember the price, but it is a fortune.”

On Gay Marriage:
“All I can say is, I support gay marriage. They want to marry each other, I support it. That is their choice.”

The ‘Tyler Perry Syndrome’:
“I would not call it a syndrome. Thing is, those box-office numbers prove there is an audience for those films. Yet, at the same time, I think there is an audience that would like to see something else. At this moment, those other films have to be made outside the Hollywood studio system. This comes down to the gatekeepers, and I do not think there is going to be any substantial movement until people of color get into those gatekeeper positions of people who have a green-light vote. That is what it comes down to. We do not have a vote, and we are not at that table when it is decided what gets made and what does not get made. Whether it is Hollywood films, network or cable television, we are not there. When I first started making films and I would have Hollywood meetings—and I know this for a fact—they would bring black people out of the mailroom to be in the meeting.”

On Retweeting Wrong George Zimmerman Address:
“They are great. The McClains. But that was not a good time. A big mistake on my part. Not a good time. I think I am smarter—I feel I am confrontational when I have to be, but it is not something that I live, breathe, sleep, and eat. There are just some things since I have been a filmmaker that I have made a comment on, and when you stick your neck out there, you got to let the chips fall where they may, and every time is not going to be perceived the right way. You are going to be misquoted, misjudged, or whatever, but this started early. Joe Klein said Do the Right Thing was going to incite riots.”

Read the full interview here.