Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Octavia Spencer, Executive Producer of GREEN BOOK

She's a Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner. She and Viola Davis are the two most Oscar-nominated Black actresses in Hollywood history.  Each has three Oscar nominations, so far, to her credit.  Octavia Spencer is one of the most talented actresses in modern movie business.
In addition to acting, Octavia Spencer is the Executive Producer of a hit movie -- GREEN BOOK. Octavia and GREEN BOOK Oscar nominee Mahershala Ali were co-stars in HIDDEN FIGURES. Today, GREEN BOOK scored an Oscar nomination for Best Picture -- but you didn't hear Octavia's name as one of its producers. I went back and looked at the movie again.
My guess is that the Academy now limits the number of producers who can be attached to a film if it gets a Best Picture Oscar nomination.  When GREEN BOOK ends, and the credits roll, you see the credits for director, the writers and then the producers. The first five producer names you see are the names in its Best Picture nomination. After their names, you see "Executive Producer, Octavia Spencer." However, when it came time to promote the film, director Peter Farrelly put Octavia right out there in front.  Look at this short video of her talking about the film.

Look at this short interview of Octavia at the Toronto International Film Festival.

When GREEN BOOK won a Best Picture award at the Golden Globes, there was Octavia onstage with Peter Farrelly for the acceptance speech. She was with Peter, Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen for interviews on E! afterwards and she was asked a question about being Executive Producer of the film.  For this month, January 2019, there was major article in Vanity Fair on "Green Book Director Peter Farrelly Defends Film Amid Criticism by Don Shirley's Family."  You can Google that and read the article.  In it. Farrelly stresses that he did not bring in Octavia Spencer to be his black friend and act as defense against criticism from black film critics and such. He talks about how important she was to the project.

After I saw GREEN BOOK, I was amazed at what I learned about Dr. Don Shirley, played very well by Mahershala Ali. The African-American musician knew Dr. Martin Luther King, Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone and Duke Ellington. He performed with NBC Symphony at Carnegie Hall in the 1950s. He appeared on network TV in the 1950s. He was a classical musician who was a child prodigy. When he was 19, he performed with the London Philharmonic. He experimented with jazz. In 1961, a year before the movie's action begins, Dr. Don Shirley had a jazz hit on the Billboard charts. On the charts for 14 weeks.

Don Shirley earned a doctorate degree in Music and in Psychology. He studied psychology at the University of Chicago and, when there was no employment in the classical music field for black people, he worked as a psychologist.

None of that do we learn about Dr. Don Shirley in GREEN BOOK the movie. That's why Dr. Shirley's surviving relatives, none of whom was contacted during the writing and production of the film, were upset reportedly. Black film critics were irked about that too.

I was hoping Octavia Spencer would be listed as a producer when the Best Picture Oscar nomination was announced. Five male producers were listed.  Not Octavia.  If she had been listed, I think that would've made her the most Oscar-nominated black woman in Hollywood history -- 3 Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress and 1 as producer of a Best Picture Oscar nominee.

For as much as Octavia Spencer was used to promote the Peter Farrelly film as its Executive Producer, heck … what a disappointment she didn't make the producers cut for the Oscar nomination like the five guys did.  Just my opinion.


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