Outspoken director Spike Lee has made some new enemies since The Hollywood Reporter last month published his controversial letter lambasting the exclusion of black characters in Mel Gibson's The Patriot.
"I've been getting a lot of hate mail lately," he confesses to TV Guide Online. Among those not amused with Lee's published rant is Patriot screenwriter Robert Rodat, who offered what Lee describes as "a weak rebuttal" in the Hollywood trade paper.
But Lee has already moved on to a new target, Paramount, which, in conjunction with MTV Films, is releasing his latest project, The Original Kings of Comedy. Lee and co-producer Walter Latham say they're disappointed with the lack of promotion and distribution for the comedy concert pic, which stars funnymen Steve Harvey, Cedric "The Entertainer", D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac.
"Paramount considers it a small picture and believes it should be treated like a small picture," complains Latham, who put up some of the financing on the $3 million pic. "Why? Because it's black actors who they've never heard of and it's a 'black' film and should be treated like a 'black' film. Every film they compare [us] to are other black films."
Lee and Latham say the situation is no different than Paramount's handling of The Wood, a movie with a black cast that died a quick death last year at the box office. Lee doesn't understand the need to compare black-oriented films to each other, but has a theory: "White America is still in a mode of thinking that all African-Americans are the same. We all look alike, talk alike, dress alike, whatever. We're all one lump-in group together."