Spike Lee Talks 'She's Gotta Have It,' 'BlacKkKlansman,' Brooklyn Gentrification

Just days before veteran director Spike Lee would win his first competitive Oscar for the acclaimed biographical crime drama BlackKkKlansman, Hollywood’s most outspoken, singular, and at times maddeningly mercurial visionary was in a surprisingly philosophical mood. This, of course, goes against type for the button-pushing filmmaker who took on Hollywood’s majority white establishment and beat them on his own terms with such bold and unapologetically black statements as School Daze (1988), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), Mo’ Better Blues (1990), Malcolm X (1992), Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995), 4 Little Girls (1997), and He Got Game (1998).

So, on a crisp February morning, Fort Greene, Brooklyn’s uncompromising 5’6” Superman was seemingly at peace at his own Fortress of Solitude—the instantly recognizable 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks townhouse, which doubles for a production headquarters and unofficial retrospective of all things Spike Lee and beyond, from classic movie posters to memorabilia.

“[It’s] an Academy Awards campaign,” the 62-year-old auteur said, describing the minefield-like run-up to his euphoric Best Adapted Screenplay triumph alongside Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott. “That’s like you’re a politician. There’s a lot of similarities. A lot of selfies. The days of Woody Allen wouldn’t even show up and still getting an Oscar, that doesn’t happen anymore. People want to see you.”

Breaking through with the sobering retelling of the 2014 Ron Stallworth memoir Black Klansman, an absurd but true-to-life story about the first Colorado Springs black police detective who infiltrated the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, may not have made up for Lee’s past side-eye worthy Academy Awards snubs. But damn it, it felt good. Following a brief string of missteps between 2013 and 2015 (Oldboy, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Chi-Raq), Spike Lee’s epic comeback was complete.

But what do you do after you finally achieve much deserved Oscar reverence? How do you follow up delivering one of the most memorable speeches of the event’s 91-year existence, passionately extolling the meaning of the win on Black History Month as you praise your beloved grandmother, the daughter of a slave, who put you through Morehouse College and NYU grad film school with 50 years of social security checks? What’s next after capping it all off with a heartfelt call to arms to vote in the upcoming pivotal 2020 presidential election (“Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing…you know I had to get that in there!”), which managed to piss off Trump and his MAGA hordes?

“I’m on a plane to Thailand to shoot the next film,” said Lee of his next project, a Netflix war drama titled Da 5 Bloods, starring the Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, along with acting vets Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., and Giancarlo Esposito. “What did Jay-Z say? On to the next.”

But that’s later on down the line. More pressing is the May 24 release of Season 2 of Lee’s Netflix hit She’s Gotta Have It, the sexually audacious series based on his provocative debut black and white romantic dramedy from 1986.

When we last left our ambitious, bold, polyamorous Brooklynite artist Nola Darling, played with joyful ease by DeWanda Wise, she was hosting an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner with her three lovers: the smile-inducing Afro-Puerto Rican man child Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos), the serious (and still married) Jamie Overstreet (Lyric Bent) and laughably vain biracial photographer Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony).

There’s an existential discussion on Nola’s flip of the male-dominated “player” trope; a holy sh*t artwork reveal (a painting displaying the penises of all three men…awkward); and a surreal dance sequence to Prince’s 1985 majestic, joyous pop gem “Raspberry Beret.”

This next go around, however, Lee raises the stakes. Nola’s romantic relationship with stunning business owner and mother Opal Gilstrap (Ilfenesh Hadera) has entered the leaving-my-toothbrush-at-your-crib phase, which has our free-spirited heroine freaking out. Meanwhile, Mars, kicked out of the apartment by his sister, is forced to finally grow up.

Jamie has to deal with the painful aftermath of his divorce, Greer is still Greer, and Nola D is blindsided by the political and corporate realities of the art world. She’s struggling to hold on to her artistic integrity as well as her bond with girlfriends Shemekka Epps (Chyna Layne) and Clorinda Bradford (Margot Bingham) under the racial and class backdrop of Brooklyn gentrification.

It’s all a wonderful, intense and, at times, cringe-worthy mess. Spike wouldn’t have it any other way. “Our goal is to have five seasons,” Lee laughed. “So in order to achieve that goal, you gotta mix it up. You have to let it be interesting. [Nola] is trying to navigate life. To me that makes her a much more interesting character because she’s not perfect.”

But Lee isn’t content with just revisiting the indelible characters that launched a 30-plus-year cinematic journey that has been both prophetic (his 2000 criminally-underrated satire Bamboozled, an unfiltered reckoning of white America’s blackface obsessions) and unpredictable (the riveting 2006 heist thriller Inside Man, which diverged from his blueprint but still stands as the highest grossing flick of his career with more than $184 million worldwide). He is also embracing the new.

He is the producer of protégé Stefon Bristol’s intriguing time-traveling sci-fi Netflix drama See You Yesterday (May 17), which follows two high school science prodigies who attempt to stop the murder of an unarmed black man by police. All this and Lee still finds time to keep an eye out for the future prospects of his beloved New York Knicks.

“If certain things happen we are going to rocking like the old days at the Garden,’ he said, flashing an optimistic smile. “We got room for two cap players. We are going to have a chance to get the top pick Zion [Williams] from Duke.”

And there’s more. Spike Lee can’t stop, won’t stop.

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Gwinnett Country Police Department

Atlanta Man Who Scammed Woman For $80K After Meeting On Dating Site Arrested In Tennessee

A seasoned schemer who scammed a woman out of $80,000 after a week of dating has been arrested.

CBS46 reports John Martin Hill was arrested on Tuesday night (May 21) in Tennessee. Hill, who had a history of grifting, met a woman on dating website Match.com. Hill reportedly told the unidentified woman that he was a millionaire and within a week of their first meeting, the two had agreed to get married.

They went house-hunting together and the victim provided Hill with more than $80,000 to purchase the house and furniture to accompany it. Once she sent the money, the victim says that Hill never reached out to her again.

Authorities discovered the 35-year-old suspect changed his name more than five times in less than three years, and that he resides in Duluth, GA in an apartment with a woman and a child.

John Martin Hill was arrested yesterday in Franklin, TN. He is at the Williamson County Jail.

We are thankful that the victim in our case came forward & reported this crime. Any other victims should contact their local police department.

Details: https://t.co/z1jZ9v8DYO pic.twitter.com/svatgLMA9v

— Gwinnett County Police (@GwinnettPd) May 22, 2019

As was reported by Fox 32 Chicago, the police also believe this isn't the first time Hill has committed a crime of this nature. His name has been thrown around in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia for committing similar acts.

Hill was reportedly charged with felony theft by deception.

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NYPD

Justice For Junior: Testifying Witness Says Hit Has Been Placed On His Life

Kevin Alvarez, one of several Trinitarios gang members responsible for the barbarous June 2018 murder of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz, was indicted on murder charges.

However, after striking a deal with the prosecution, which involves flipping on his co-conspirators, Alvarez pled guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy and faces 25 years in prison. According to the 20-year-old, a death sentence has been placed on him for "doing something bad" like snitching to cops.

“They go out and look for you in groups until they find you and kill you,” he said. Alvarez said for "doing something bad

In a packed courtroom, Monday (May 21) he nervously identified the five others responsible for the vicious stabbing death of the Bronx teen. Alvarez said he drove one of the four cars to chase Junior and revealed the 15-year-old tried to run into nearby St. Barnabas Hospital for help, but blocked him, which is why Junior then ran into a bodega.

Alvarez said he assumed Junior was in another gang and involved in a rival shooting.

He then explained that he was the one who pushed the bodega door open, helped to drag Junior out and repeatedly punched and kicked Junior in the head while he was down. Junior tried to tell him he wasn't the person they were looking for, but Alvarez and co. didn't listen.

Video of Junior’s murder played again in court in slow motion. Junior’s mom with their heads between her knees, cried quietly throughout. #JusticeForJunior pic.twitter.com/APqZ2k8Odh

— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) May 21, 2019

The prosecution then played the heartwrenching footage from the bodega. Reportedly, Junior's mother turned away and kept her head between her knees crying.

If all members of the Trinitarios gang are convicted, they face life in prison.

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Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for EA NBA Live 19

YG's '4REAL 4REAL' Album Cover Honors Nipsey Hussle

On May 24, YG will release his fourth studio album, 4REAL 4REAL, a feat that fans are eagerly awaiting. After debuting singles like "Go Loko" and "Stop Snitchin," the Compton native also revealed the project's cover, which is dedicated to Nipsey Hussle.

In script at the bottom of images of YG, "In loving memory of Nipsey Hussle" is cemented, canonizing YG's longtime friendship with the fallen rapper. Hussle was fatally shot on March 31 in Los Angeles, a passing that received a wave of condolences and memories shared of the 33-year-old entrepreneur/artist. The lyrical pair have a history of churning out collaborative songs like "You Broke," "I Wanna Benz," "FDT," and "Last Time That I Checc'd."

 

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4REAL 4REAL THE ALBUM. MAY 24TH! 🏁

A post shared by @ yg on May 21, 2019 at 1:06pm PDT

In a previous interview with Billboard, YG said music is his safe haven and shelters him from a dark place. "If I'm not doing music, I feel depressed," he said. "I feel like I ain't sh*t. I like to create, and right now, I know where I want to be, and I know how to get there."

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