Cooley High director Michael Schultz will be honored October 24 by the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center as part of its 26th annual African American Film Marketplace and the S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase, which runs from October 23-November 29.
“Michael represents the best of the best in Hollywood, a true genius at what he does,” said BHERC president Sandra Evers-Manly. “Cooley High is a classic that launched the careers of several phenomenal actors and inspired a generation of filmmakers. A renaissance professional, Michael has placed an indelible imprint on the stage, film and television industries.”
Cooley High was “so important during its time because of the cultural content as well as its box office performance,” she said. “It’s a comedy turned drama coming-of-age story of high school friends that reached beyond communities and lines of color and gave voice and validation to lives never explored on the big screen.”
Evers-Manly, a former president of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch of the NAACP, and the cousin of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences earlier this year.
Hosted by actor William Allen Young, the virtual salute to Schultz — who still is directing at 81 — will chronicle the pioneering director’s career in film and television, beginning in 1972 with the TV movie To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, and followed by a string of hit comedies, including Cooley High (1975), Car Wash (1976), Greased Lightning (1977), Which Way Is Up? (1977) and Carbon Copy (1981), which featured Denzel Washington in his first movie role. Schultz, whose career has spanned 50 years, went on to direct more than 100 episodes of TV shows, including Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, Touched by an Angel, The Practice, Chicago Hope, Black Lightning and Black-ish. His many other films include Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978), Scavenger Hunt (1979), Krush Groove (1985) and The Last Dragon (1985).
Cooley High cast members who will be on hand to pay tribute to Schultz include Garrett Morris, Steven Williams, Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, Glynn Turman, Jackie Taylor, Gloria Schultz and Brandon Schultz. Industry colleagues taking part will include NCIS executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson, actor-director Bill Duke, director Oz Scott and producer Warrington Hudlin.
Commemorating the 45th anniversary of the release of Cooley High, the film will be screened at the BHERC’s signature event, “A Great Day in Black Hollywood,” as part of its monthlong short-film festival, which will screen 140 films from 20 countries. Cooley High will screen at 3 pm PT October 24, followed by an online tribute to Shultz, which can be viewed at http://www.BHERC.TV.
Founded by Evers-Manly in 1996, BHERC is a nonprofit, public benefit organization designed to advocate, educate, research, develop, and preserve the history and future of African Americans in film and television. BHERC programs include film festivals, mentoring, book signings, script readings, film and animation contests, scholarships, and other programs and special events. BHERC TV was launched in February 2020 and offers commercial-free, affordable streaming entertainment with paid memberships in eight countries, providing programming in a variety of genres and languages that can be watched on any internet-connected screen.