Spike Lee Q and A

Spike Lee Q and A

Some highlights from the Q&A session after the screening of “Do The Right Thing” Friday night at Ebertfest:

— Director Spike Lee praised Roger Ebert for supporting the film when other white critics concentrated on the damage done to a white-owned pizzeria instead of the death of a major black character at the hands of the New York police.

Chaz Ebert said her husband lauded the even-handed treatment of race relations in a movie that famously ends with contrasting quotes by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X.

Lee noted in particular that some white critics worried about black audiences seeing the film because they thought the Malcolm X quote “was a coded message for us to riot.”

He noted that the quotes were added in post-production. The film does not tell viewers what to think, Lee said. He wanted the audience to determine what the right thing is, using complex characters in opposition, such as Sal the pizzeria owner, and Buggin’ Out, who calls for a boycott of Sal’s place.

— He and Chaz Ebert talked about the actors who started their careers in the film, including Rosie Perez, Martin Lawrence, Giancarlo Esposito and Samuel L. Jackson — who was in the credits as “Sam Jackson.”

— Lee noted that his film accurately predicted the gentrification of his neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, with a character played by John Savage.

He said he would have played for the Mets, but “my genetics conspired against me.”

— Chaz Ebert pointed out that Lee was called “an angry black man.”

“If you really want to see me angry, see me courtside at a Knicks game,” he responded.

He added that labels helped critics diminish the work of artists.

“This is a very angry movie,” he added.

— Lee said he couldn’t “get ‘Malcolm X’ made today unless we had Denzel (Washington) in tights and a cape.”

Lee also said he couldn't get some movies made today because of "bean-counters" who only care about special effects, and that it was "criminal" to watch a movie on a phone.