Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Nominate Spike Lee for a Best Director Oscar

Infiltrate Hate. Did you see the Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman? It's based on a true story, which may seem hard to believe when you see it. It's now on DVD. Ron Stallworth, who was interviewed by Scott Simon on NPR earlier this year, was a police detective in a Colorado city in the 1970s. He's African American. The intelligent, ambitious, young black cop infiltrated the KKK. He even got a membership card. Stallworth started his infiltration on the phone. He didn't "sound black," so the KKK representative couldn't tell he was having a phone conversation about white supremacy with a black man. There's a local Colorado branch planning race war violence. With the help of a Jewish fellow police officer, Stallworth goes undercover. Both cops come in direct contact with national KKK leader David Duke. Both come in contact with racism within the police force. The source material for this gripping, powerful film is the 2014 memoir, Black Klansman, by Ron Stallworth.
A black man in Colorado winds up being the police bodyguard to visiting KKK leader David Duke. You have to see how this happened.  There are two forces at play. There's the White Power of the Klan and there's the Black Power movement emerging because a new generation is ready to beat down decades of racial oppression and violence from the White Power movement.
This White Supremacy action has not all been hooded and in the dark. It was highlighted as heroic in D.W. Griffith's famous and infamous 1915 box office hit, THE BIRTH OF A NATION. In Griffith's widely popular epic film were offensive black images and stereotypes that still infuriate today. And that film was an early Hollywood blockbuster. Dr. William Shockley was an American physicist who won a 1956 Nobel Prize for Physics.  Dr. Shockley shattered his reputation later when he publicly made the racist claims that the Negro is genetically, intellectually inferior to the white man. There was Brown v Board of Education. The Supreme Court had to declare school segregation unconstitutional. These facts come up in BlacKkKlansman.                                

In his long and internationally celebrated film career, director Spike Lee has never, ever been nominated for the Best Director Oscar.  If he does not get a Best Director Oscar nomination for BlacKkKlansman, there is seriously something wrong with the Academy. This is one of the top films of 2018 and one of the best films of his career.

And you did read that correctly.  Spike Lee directed DO THE RIGHT THING (1989), JUNGLE FEVER (1991), MALCOLM X (1992), the documentary 4 LITTLE GIRLS (1997), SUMMER OF SAM (1999), and INSIDE MAN (2006)…to name of few of his joints (productions). He's directed actors to Oscar nominations -- Denzel Washington for MALCOLM X and Danny Aiello for DO THE RIGHT THING. He's acted in films he directed and co-wrote -- SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, DO THE RIGHT THING and MALCOLM X, for example.

But unlike actor/directors such as Woody Allen, Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson, Spike Lee has never, ever received an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The Academy bestowed him with an honorary Oscar.

You'll be disturbed to feel that the racist poison the cops try to stop in the 1970s has surfaced and spilled out again in modern-day America. In the movie, we know that it's not like DR. STRANGELOVE, FAIL-SAFE or SEVEN DAYS IN MAY. It's not a case of "it could happen here." The last ten minutes slap us hard in the face with the grim American reality that it did happen here just a year ago. Spike Lee holds a mirror up to this age of "Make America Great Again."
John David Washington, with his fierce full moon-shaped Afro, plays Ron Stallworth. John David is the son of Denzel Washington.  John David did his daddy proud. Adam Driver should be in the Oscar race for his performance as Flip Zimmerman, the Jewish cop who goes undercover with Stallworth. I cannot think of another actor who could've played that good role better than Adam Driver did. He is like the lovable and versatile Greenberg, a member of the Polish acting company in the 1942 Ernst Lubitsch classic, TO BE OR NOT TO BE. The troupe of players in the WW2 comedy outwits an audience of Nazis. In the theatre lobby, Greenberg is surrounded by the harshest critics he could ever face. He's surrounded by Nazis. The actor outwits and escapes them by performing Shylock's speech from Shakespeare's THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. The Nazis are clueless to Shakespeare. Flip Zimmerman, like Greenberg, is surrounded by some of his harshest critics -- Jew-hating klansmen who don't realize he's really a Jew. The cop has to be an actor, totally in the moment, to outwit them and escape their circle of evil. Flip pretends to be Ron Stallworth and meets to fill out his application for klan membership.

BlacKkKlansman should get the following Oscar nominations come January:
Spike Lee for Best Director
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Picture
Adam Driver for Best Supporting Actor.
Spike Lee co-wrote the screenplay with the amazingly talented Kevin Willmott.  Willmott, also a black man, is a professor of film at the University of Kansas. He wrote and directed a mockumentary about race that is just genius and wickedly, brilliantly funny.  It's a 2004 production called C.S.A.: THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA.

It's an account of alternate history if the South had won the Civil War. This "documentary" is done by a British TV crew and aired on a Northern California PBS-like station.  Everything -- station IDs, local commercials, classic film clips, interviews -- everything is done is if we live in the Confederate States of America.  It's like if Woody Allen's ZELIG meets the Key & Peele and Dave Chappelle comedy shows we saw on cable's Comedy Central. Classic film fans will marvel at Willmott's twist on film history and his knowledge of it.  In this mockumentary is a scene from a silent D.W. Griffith film in which we see Abraham Lincoln, in blackface, caught trying to flee on the Underground Railway.  It looks exactly like actual footage from Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION. There's a classic 1940s film in which an obviously British and white actor is in blackface seriously playing a Southern plantation butler. It's laughable.

However, in the mid 1940s, after she'd played Queen Elizabeth I followed by the housekeeper/narrator in William Wyler's WUTHERING HEIGHTS, ivory white British film actress Flora Robson was covered in dark make-up and played the side-eye giving, formidable Haitian maid in the Warner Bros. romantic drama, SARATOGA TRUNK, starring Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper.  Hollywood gave Caucasian Flora Robson a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for playing a dark-skinned Haitian maid.  Writer/director/film professor Kevin Willmott knows his film history.

C.S.A.: THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA had me laughing so hard my sides hurt.  The reviews for it were terrific.  When I worked on-air with Whoopi Goldberg on her national weekday morning radio show out of New York City (from 2006 to 2008), I got a DVD copy, gave it to her, and enthusiastically suggested we do a phone interview of Kevin Willmott for a segment on the show. I'd contacted him, highly praised his work, and asked if he'd be open to doing an interview if she agreed to it.  He was most gracious, very grateful and quite open to the idea of an interview.

For some reason, Whoopi was not as enthusiastic as I was.  I was frustrated and disappointed that I couldn't give him some national exposure in 2006/2007 and introduce listeners to this gifted black talent.

Whoopi's radio show got canceled.  Kevin Willmott went on to co-write screenplays with Spike Lee. His BlacKkKlansman was recognized, praised and honored at the Cannes Film Festival this year.  Screenwriter Kevin Willmott could wind up getting an Oscar nomination early next year.

I wonder if Whoopi has seen the movie. She should. You should too.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Josh Groban, So Good as THE GOOD COP

Have you heard him sing?  Oh, my Sweet Baby Jesus. He's got the gift. If we were in the 1940s and 50s when Hollywood studios still reigned and gave us movies starring performers they had under contract, Josh Groban would've been snatched up in a heartbeat by a major studio like MGM, Paramount or 20th Century Fox. He'd have been cast in some original musicals and top songwriters of the day would've have written new tunes for him to introduce the way they wrote new tunes for Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He would've introduced songs that would become new entries in the Great American Songbook of standards.  He's that good.  Netflix now really makes me sad the old classic Hollywood studio system no longer exists to make Josh Groban a star. Why? Because a new series on Netflix stars Josh Groban and it's a winner.  It's not a musical. It does, however, display his smooth, solid acting chops and appealing character. Crimes are solved in a smart, sophisticated series called THE GOOD COP.  Josh plays the good cop.  He wears glasses and affordable business attire. He looks like your typical bookworm. He plays by the rules. Always.
The same cannot be said of his roommate. His roommate was a cop who got into a little trouble and had to do some time behind bars. This older cop is the father to Groban's young cop.  Tony Danza, in mighty fine form, plays the hipster dad who wishes his obsessive son would loosen up a bit.  But, deep down, dad is quite proud of his brainy cop son.  They live together in a borough outside of Manhattan. Just a couple of working class men -- solving murders.  If THE GOOD COP had been a traditional network TV series back in the days of TWIN PEAKS, MOONLIGHTING, HILL STREET BLUES and NORTHERN EXPOSURE, it would have been a hit.  It's inventive, original, funny, well-played and very entertaining.  It's hip without trying to be hip. It's has a jazzy score, atypical for a cop series but perfect for the tone of this show. It fits the characters.
 Here's a taste of the different kind of crimefighting team you'll see on THE GOOD COP.
The third episode features actor John Carroll Lynch as an ex-boxer framed for murder.  You've seen John Carroll Lynch a lot but may not know his name the way you know a Tom Hanks or George Clooney.  Lynch played the husband opposite Frances McDormand in FARGO, he was the large and intimidating suspect in ZODIAC and he creeped you out as Twisty the Clown on TV's AMERICAN HORROR STORY.

I was drinking coffee, home alone on a Saturday night, as I watched the episode. I did a forceful DTST (Danny Thomas Spit Take) with a mouthful of coffee, belly laughing at an unexpected entrance the big ex-boxer made to get some advice from the cop dad.

That episode took me back to when I had fun staying in on a Saturday night to watch some good TV shows. This is an excellent vehicle for Josh Groban. Veteran TV actor Tony Danza delivers again.  There's nice chemistry between the two lead actors. Oh! And the open of the first episode is wonderful. Beautifully written. The whole dynamic in the relationship between father and son is realized as we see them in a car at a stoplight that's out of order. I hope this show gets an order for more episodes.  It's on Netflix. I totally dig THE GOOD COP.

Friday, November 9, 2018

We Love Michelle Obama

BECOMING, the Michelle Obama memoir, comes out this Tuesday. I'm sure it's already a best seller. You've probably heard that, in it, she wrote that she cannot forgive Donald Trump for putting her family's safety at risk with his whole birther movement.  That was his constant, disrespectful assertion that President Obama was not a true American. That he was African. (Fast forward in your mind and think about when he called Africa a "shithole country" in January.)  He demanded to see President Obama's birth certificate.  Mrs. Obama wrote that Trump's whole birther claim was "crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks. What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls?"

I cannot blame Michelle Obama one bit for having those feelings. Look at the Trump-fan kook who recently got caught sending mail bombs to broadcast and political Trump critics.
I'm a TV veteran. Several times, as a performer, I've had to sign a contract. Every single contract had the standard morals clause. That clause basically says that you, the talent, will behave yourself in public and not do anything that would embarrass the production or otherwise raise a stink. When Trump started that racially offensive birther business, he was host of THE APPRENTICE on NBC.  I thought for sure that the network would put that fire out immediately and/or suspend him. No. He kept at it. Tweeting his birther mess. Saying in TV interviews. All the while, we black folks are getting angrier and angrier at his white privilege disrespect of President Barack Obama.  Trump lied about President Obama and the network fed his reality TV game show host ego even more.

Did Trump not have a standard morals clause in a contract? Or did network executives not care about the feelings of Black Americans?

Yes, NBC later fired Trump after he called Mexicans "rapists and murderers." To me, that was a cosmetic move.  NBC had spent nearly $2 billion to purchase Telemundo, Spanish-language television.  Who were the people who wanted to slap the orange off of Donald Trump for that racist comment about Mexicans? Telemundo viewers.

Trump still got star treatment as he entered the presidential race.  Remember how TV critics across the board slammed Matt Lauer for a lightweight town hall interview of candidate Trump? Lauer grilled Tom Cruise harder than he did Donald Trump.  That gave me the feeling that Trump was the NBC/Universal candidate.  The Access Hollywood tape scandal? I think aging frat boy Billy Bush was fired for not protecting Trump. Billy, whom I've worked with, was hired by local WNBC News in 2001 with absolutely no TV experience and no journalism background. He was a rock morning radio DJ who was quite comfortable telling you that he was related to not just one...BUT TWO...U.S. presidents. He went network four months after his local debut. He started doing pieces on TODAY. Within a few years, in a move that seemed like a modern-day gender bender version of ALL ABOUT EVE. he was hired as a contributor on ACCESS HOLLYWOOD and eventually replaced the older male host.

My point? NBC likes the GOP.

Before the election, I had dinner with a very upscale white buddy of mine in New York City. He's been making a fabulous income for years and considers himself to be liberal. But he wasn't going to vote for Hillary.  He considered the reality TV game show host the lesser of two evils. He giggled at the "silly" birther thing.  I switched to the non-giggle lane with him in the passenger seat.  I explained seriously why the birther thing made us black people livid.  He didn't really get the racist undertones of what Trump was doing. He just saw him as the goofy rich white guy with the weird hair. I brought up the Central Park Five and how Trump called for the execution of five black/Latino teens, unjustly sent to prison, who were later found to be innocent. He hadn't really paid attention to that. He'd felt that Trump would be good for the country. I felt that network TV news was ignoring the red flags of what he was saying.

It came down to this.  Trump's Obama disrespect and the nasty things he said about Mexicans... that really had nothing to do with my very upscale white buddy's life.

But now he's been forced to get "woke."  Charlottesville. Putin. Kavanaugh. Mass shootings vs the NRA. Trump's constant lying and his assault on freedom of the press. Racism. Anti-Semitism.

Did Trump have a moral clause in an NBC contract in his years hosting The Apprentice? Why did news get dazzled by the orange smoke of his celebrityhood and not do the work of calling him out on his lies and racial offensiveness?  News should've paid attention to how angry we black folks were at Trump's birther bullshit. His racial disrespect for The Obamas was a major red flag and now he's also disrespecting the press. Yes. News should've paid attention to the anger of us black folks. To borrow a line Claudette Colbert did in 1942's THE PALM BEACH STORY, we knew Trump's birther business was "just an overture to the opera that's coming."
There you have it. A few thoughts from me. I can't wait to read BECOMING by Michelle Obama.




Thursday, November 8, 2018

The First Amendment and Films I Recommend

This is another week of heartache and national grief.  This morning, we awoke to the news that there has been another mass shooting in America. People were killed in a popular social center bar/nightclub in Thousand Oaks, California.  I grew up in Southern California.  In my youth, I knew Thousand Oaks to be a quiet, arid community. Apparently nothing had changed in all the decades since -- until now. The country music bar and grill in Thousand Oaks was frequented by college students. On KNX Radio out of L.A., I heard a Thousand Oaks resident cry and say that her community had always been "a safe haven." This is the worst mass shooting in America -- in 11 days.  We haven't yet dried all our tears from the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, a crime motivated by anti-Semitism. November 9th, by the way, marks the dark anniversary of Kristallnacht, a wave of hate against Jews in 1930s Germany.

Heaven help us.  Something...something has to be done to stop this.  Our national leader does not seem to care about this.  Mass shootings are becoming as American as apple pie, yet he remains loyal to the NRA.

About our leader -- did you see yesterday's press conference?  He mocked Republicans who lost in the midterms, claiming that they lost because they were not loyal enough to him. He verbally insulted and bullied reporters. The White House pulled the press pass of CNN reporter, Jim Acosta. A black female reporter asked Trump about declaring himself to be a "nationalist," which he did in a rally. She asked the important question about the racist undertone that being white and calling one's self a "nationalist" may have. He interrupted and accused her of asking him a "racist question."  Remember that he's the man who called Mexicans "rapists and murderers."
Today, veteran network reporters are commenting on how yesterday's presidential behavior was far worse than anything experienced when Nixon and Reagan were grilled with extremely tough press questions that held them accountable. And those presidents never had a press pass pulled.  Yesterday's pulling of a national reporter's press pass was something shockingly new. And this happened from a president who took office without prior political experience. He was the egomaniac real estate millionaire who became a popular reality game show host on network TV.
In the 1980s, Steven Spielberg's THE POST would have caused a lot of buzz and, I feel, it would have done quite well at the box office. But today, movie screens have been dominated by follow-ups featuring comic book superheroes.  I paid to see THE POST in 2017. The audience applauded during it and at the end.  I watched it twice this week on HBO.

Donald Trump seems to have the same regard for our Constitution that he would have for a fast food restaurant napkin.  Yesterday's press conference was him wiping his greasy fingers on the First Amendment.  The Marvel Comics characters have made enough money.  See something about non-caped characters.  Real life people at work, in journalism, who did the hard work even when threated with imprisonment.  They stood up for Freedom of the Press. They stood up for the Constitution.

See Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep as newspaper co-workers who realized they had to set aside the fluff celebrity pieces and acknowledge that American liberties were at stake.  Watch THE POST, a very fine and very important film that did not get nearly that amount of moviegoer love that it should have.
As the drama in THE POST ends, we see burglars break in at The Watergate Hotel.  The Washington Post was faced with another political crime from the same White House administration, the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, in the same decade. To Nixon, the press was his "enemy."

After you watch THE POST, see Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in Alan J. Pakula's 1976 classic, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN. This movie opens where THE POST ends.
In both of these true stories, we see women and men who did the hard, the unglamorous and grueling work of a free press.  I happen to feel that a free press is a sharp golden sword in our great democracy.  The current administration wants to dull that blade.

THE POST and ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.  These films are relevant and timely. They remind you that our freedom of the press is vital and that it is at stake.  Yesterday's White House press conference alone was visual proof of that.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Jeff Goldblum on CBS SUNDAY MORNING

The 1980s was a great decade to land in New York City for TV work.  That's what I did. I was hired by WPIX TV/Channel 11 to relocate from Milwaukee to Manhattan. I'd be doing entertainment features on local TV. Celebrity interviews and such. I'd be at WPIX for two years and then I'd get an offer to national exposure as a daily veejay and talk show host on VH1.  Back in those days, you could pass a lot of celebrities on the streets of New York City. Or see them in a supermarket or hardware store or diner.  If you interviewed them once -- and the interview was good -- they'd remember you if you were scheduled to interview them again for another project. For me, Jeff Goldblum was a celebrity who remembered me back then. I was flattered. If you're a Jeff Goldblum fan, he'll be profiled on CBS SUNDAY MORNING on November 4th.
I've had a couple of interview opportunities with Jeff Goldblum in the 1980s and a couple of casual encounters.  Each single one was fun -- like the fun some of us used to have when we were kids watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV while eating a bowl of Trix cereal.
He's a tall, slim, jazzy bird of character who's been around and noticeable for a long time.  In the first 20 minutes of the 1974 revenge drama, DEATH WISH, starring Charles Bronson, you'll see Goldblum as one of the criminals who terrorizes Hope Lange as the wife opposite Charles Bronson as the NYC architect.  In 1974, Goldblum had one line -- one wacky line -- and managed to stand out in the Woody Allen classic, ANNIE HALL. In 1980, network TV tried to make him a star opposite Ben Vereen in the private eye duo series, TEN SPEED AND BROWN SHOE. It was canceled. But Jeff Goldblum's role as the People Magazine writer in the hit 1983 movie, THE BIG CHILL, really clicked with the public. It was around that time I interviewed him for the first time. Then I'd run into him at New York publicity parties when he was dating and then newlywedded to actress and fabulous feminist Geena Davis.  They seemed to be the perfect couple.  For one thing, they were almost the same height.
 Jeff Goldblum congratulated when I got the VH1 gig.  He knew I'd moved up from local to national TV work.  For VH1, I made many trips from New York to L.A. to tape segments for my talk show. On one return trip, I was reserved in business class from L.A. back to New York.  The flight was fully booked. When I reached my aisle seat, I heard a warm "Hey, Bobby." My seatmate would be a smiling Jeff Goldblum.

This was the first time in my life I'd ever sat next to a celebrity on a flight. I knew that many stars prized their privacy, so I made sure not to get all giddy and be an interruption.

Well, Jeff Goldblum chatted like we were old high school buddies. He chatted about VH1. He chatted about the in-flight meal. He chatted about the groovy music he was listening to on his Walkman and he shared his earpieces so I could hear some of it.  He'd been cast in a new upcoming Robert Altman feature. He was soon to start rehearsals and he had his script with him. So he asked me to run lines with him to prepare for Altman's BEYOND THERAPY.

Jeff Goldblum was one of the chattiest men I'd ever sat next to on a flight, a bus, a subway, or any other kind of mass transportation.

Remember the I LOVE LUCY episode where The Ricardos and The Mertzes are on the flight back from Europe to New York? Lucy Ricardo has a 25 pound piece of cheese wrapped in a baby blanket. She thinks kids fly free and she's trying to pass the cheese off as a baby so Ricky won't have to pay extra. Lucy's seatmate, a mom holding a real baby, keeps trying to engage Lucy in conversation and get a peek at her infant. After a few minutes, Lucy pretends to be asleep.

I did that same exact thing to Jeff Goldblum somewhere over Colorado.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of interviewing and being up close to movie stars.  I never thought that one would talk my ears off while I was strapped in to my seat.
I must add that, as cool as he seems to be onscreen and in interviews, he was that cool sitting next to me in flight.  I just needed a few minutes of quiet. I really dig Jeff Goldblum and have ever since our first meeting. I hope we meet again. Watch him on CBS SUNDAY MORNING.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Rebel Wilson Weighs In

The British comic actress apparently has a new movie coming out and it's a romantic comedy. Just yesterday, I blogged that white entertainment journalists and TV hosts can and do often overlook the accomplishments of black actors, actresses and filmmakers. In the previous blog, which is about Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, I point out how I watched two high profile white entertainment press members on live network TV cover the Oscar nominations yet not give one single mention to the huge Hollywood history Viola Davis had just made when she was announced as a nominee. Well, it has happened again.  This morning, I read the Huffington Post online article about full-figured British star, Rebel Wilson.  Her new movie is called ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?  When Rebel was a guest on the festive daytime TV talk show, ELLEN, Rebel said, "I'm proud to be the first-ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy."
 I thought, "Really? Does Queen Latifah know about this?"

To me, Rebel Wilson's comment to Ellen DeGeneres was not exacty -- to use the title of one of Rebel's hit comedies -- PITCH PERFECT.
Queen Latifah is, by no means, skinny. She got the handsome guy in the race/gender bender romantic comedy called LAST HOLIDAY. This was a 2006 American remake of a lovely classic British film that starred the great Sir Alec Guinness.  Like Guinness in the more subdued original, she's a person who decides to really live her life when she's told she has a terminal illness and only weeks to live. I highly recommend the 1950 British original. It's an absolute gem, funny and touching.  LL Cool J was Queen's leading man in the remake.
Just last week on TV, I saw Queen Latifah in the light 2010 romantic comedy, JUST WRIGHT co-starring Common. He shoots and she scores in that basketball-centered romantic story.
Before she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, comedian/actress Mo'Nique starred in the 2006 romantic comedy called PHAT GIRLZ.  In it, Mo'Nique played a plus-sized aspiring fashion designer and department store employee. Her lead character may be insecure about her weight but she needn't be. She'll get the handsome guy at the end. Here's a PHAT GIRLZ shot with Mo'Nique on the right.

And what about Ricki Lake in the 1988 John Waters' hit, HAIRSPRAY?

I think you get my point. This is why I frequently write about the accomplishments of black artists in the entertainment industry. Our history can often be overlooked. I like bringing attention to it.

Here's a trailer for Rebel Wilson's ISN'T IT ROMANTIC? It opens in a couple of months.







Thursday, November 1, 2018

Octavia Spencer, Black History and GREEN BOOK

You know how I love to champion major breakthroughs in the field of diversity and inclusion for people of color in the film/TV industry.  Even today, our history and accomplishments can be totally overlooked by high profile white entertainment journalists.  I don't write that in a mean-spirited way. It's just a fact that I've noticed on network TV.  Here's an example involving two white gentlemen whose work I like.  In January 2017 on ABC's Good Morning America, less than five minutes before the live announcement of Oscar nominations, ABC entertainment news anchor Chris Connelly and People Magazine editor in chief Jess Cagle were on the show's daily anchors. Connelly mentioned that he was eager to see if black actors would get nominations because the "Oscars So White" controversy was still hot from the previous year.  The nominations came out.  I let loose a loud cheer in this apartment for Viola Davis. Her first Oscar nomination was for DOUBT. Her second was for Best Actress for THE HELP, co-starring Octavia Spencer. Octavia won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for THE HELP.
That January 2017 morning, Viola Davis got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for FENCES. That is why I cheered. She had just become the most Oscar nominated black actress in all Hollywood history.  It was Viola's third nomination.  I have been an Oscars history geek ever since I was in high school. Also, I'm proud to have years of national TV, radio and print entertainment reviewer/interviewer credits under my veteran belt. So, watching the Oscar nominations be announced every year is like a religion to me.

Neither Chris Connelly nor Jess Cagle said that Viola Davis had just made Oscar history. They overlooked the Denzel Washington history that same morning. He was a Best Actor Oscar nominee for FENCES. The 2-time Oscar winner had received his 7th nomination. The next year, he's continue his reign as the most Oscar-nominated black actor in Hollywood history with an 8th nomination.

Chris Connelly and Jess Cagle also missed the history that Denzel Washington was the first black actor to receive a Best Actor Oscar nomination for a performance in a film he directed -- a film that also got an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  Washington was one of the film's producers and he received an Oscar nomination in the Best Picture producer category.  He also directed his co-star to her record-breaking, history-making third Oscar nomination.

The two guest entertainment journalists missed all that history about Viola Davis when they discussed the Oscar nominations live on ABC's Good Morning America.

By the way, ABC is the network that airs the hit prime time legal drama series, How To Get Away With Murder starring...Viola Davis.  Chris and Jess didn't mention that either.  Viola Davis won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for FENCES.

Yes, I have pitched myself for years to work for ABC on its morning show. I never got a response.
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer went on to receive two more Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations -- for HIDDEN FIGURES and THE SHAPE OF WATER.  Octavia Spencer is now tied with Viola Davis.  They are the two most Oscar-nominated black actresses in Hollywood history.  They have three nominations and one win each.

The movie GREEN BOOK opens this month. It's already generated solid reviews and Oscar buzz in Best Picture category.  This film is based on a true story and a real-life travel guide that helped African American motorists travel safely through the Jim Crow South. Mahershala Ali, Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner for MOONLIGHT, stars with Viggo Mortensen.
If GREEN BOOK does get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Octavia Spencer could make Oscar history again. She's one of the film's executive producers. Brava, Octavia!


Nominate Spike Lee for a Best Director Oscar

Infiltrate Hate. Did you see the Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman ? It's based on a true story, which may seem hard to believe when you se...