Quincy Jones Challenges AMPAS On Diversity: “Boycott Or Fix It” As Norman Lear Raps Donald Trump – NATPE

UPDATE 12:35 P.M.: Adds Norman Lear’s comments regarding Donald Trump, at end.


EARLIER: Asked this afternoon for his take on the lack of Oscar nominations for African Americans, Quincy Jones — who’s scored 34 films beginning with The Pawnbroker in 1964 — told the audience at NATPE in Miami that he, too, might withdraw from the February 28 ceremony.

“Spike [Lee] pulled out, Jada [Pinkett Smith] pulled out,” Jones said in response to a question from an audience member, during a conversation with Norman Lear moderated by Netflix chief Ted Sarandos. “I’ve been involved in the Academy longer than I care to remember,” Jones continued. “I was the first black board member, the first black conductor — I hate ‘first black’ because that means ‘only.’  I want the young African-American kids to know that the door is open.” Jones then said that he has been asked to co-present with Common and Pharrell Williams and had told the Academy that, “If you don’t let me speak on the lack of diversity, I’m not going to do it.”

Jones recounted past battles with the Academy over a lifetime as composer and producer of stars from Michael Jackson to Frank Sinatra. “We’ve changed all the rules,” over the years, he insisted. “I said that if the Beatles are not eligible for an Oscar then close this goddam thing down now. I had to make a speech for Lennon and McCartney for ‘Let It Be’!”

“Fix it,” Jones added, quite emotionally. “Boycott or fix it. It’s been going on too long.”

Norman Lear TCA 2016To which Lear added, “If there’s anything American, it’s the right to protest. I congratulate those who want to speak their minds.”

The exchange was the most electric of the 45 minute conversation in which Lear and Jones recalled high and low points of their seven decades-long careers. It began with a friendly jibe: Jones described being a young producer in London in the late 1960s and trying desperately to secure the rights to the popular UK sitcom Till Death Us Do Part. At the mention of that name, Lear amiably flipped the bird at Jones — acknowledgement that while Jones beat him at recognizing the potential of the show, it was Lear who would recast it in his distinctly American way as All In the Family. That show of course led to a franchise that dominated U.S. TV for two decades.

After the softball was over, Sarandos turned it over to questions from the audience. One participant said she’d been hearing people say that Republican Presidential contender Donald Trump “is the new Archie Bunker,” referring to the bigoted central figure of All In The Family, played by the late Carroll O’Connor. Lear didn’t miss a beat in answering:

“Archie Bunker was afraid of progress,” Lear said. “Donald Trump thinks he is progress. And the American people see him as the middle finger of their right hands.”





  1. So it took him 82 years to come to this conclusion? Why didn’t he do it when he still had some clout in the industry?

    1. Did you not read the article? He fought for composers and in regards to his clout. I think that he still knows those in power (hence who is interviewing him) and he is only 1 person. The cry for diversity rests on all our shoulders.

    2. What a joke. Without Quincy we’d be way further behind in terms of diversity. He’s a pioneer, he’s a genius, he’s a master, he’s changed the world. And I think everyone with half a brain can conclude he still has great clout. Thank you Quincy!

  2. “Jones described being a young producer in London in the late 1960s and trying desperately to secure the rights to the popular UK sitcom Till Death Do Us Part.”

    The show was called TILL DEATH US DO PART, not “do us part” (reflecting the PROPER syntax of British marriage vows, as opposed to the American).

  3. These talented individuals are turning it into a seriously Black-exclusive issue which is dangerous territory. This should be a minorities issue in terms of race equality in film in general. What about the Asians, Indians, Latinos, etc? Even George Clooney said the latter has it the worst. Do we see them year after year saying the Academy is racist? This is just turning into a ridiculous game.

  4. Dear AMPAS Member … no one I have heard speak on this has made it a ‘Black-exclusive’ issue as you coin it. Anyone with any sense of historical American perspective knows that as blacks push the doors open for social and economic equality other minorities (including women) have been able to come through those same doors. There would be no Women’s Lib or Latino Movement without the Civil Rights Movement – period. Blacks have always had to ‘force the issue’ when it came to receiving equal treatment in American society. It was never given altruistically. It was fought for and that legacy benefitted all minorities in its wake. Despite what your version of Black-exclusive means, other minorities understand that this long overdue debate re: Oscar benefits ALL people of color! And if you are truly an AMPAS Member it’s no wonder it’s taken this long to affect change within your organization.

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