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L.A. critic upset by Lee’s mandate

This article was corrected on November 2, 1992. In an effort to counter reports that he refuses to be interviewed by anybody but African-American journalists, Spike Lee and Warner Bros. issued a statement Friday defending his position.

“I’ve never said I want only black journalists to interview me about the flim … many non-black journalists have … I said I would prefer to speak to African-American journalists,” Lee stated.

That preference, which has reportedly turned into requests with magazine and newspaper editors, crystalizes what the black director considers to be “a much greater problem: the embarrassing lack of black writers as these various institutions. Some have one or two black journalists, but in most cases these publications have no blacks on their staffs.

“Instead of questioning me, the white media should take a hard look at its own hiring practices …”

Lee’s spin control efforts on reporters became an issue after two fairly critical interviews appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine and Esquire–both written by white journalists.

“I ask: What crime have I committed by asking for qualified professionals who will be sympathetic to the film and myself?” adding that his actions are both “commonplace and traditional” by “Hollywood’s standards. Movie stars often flex their muscles and pick and choose who they wish to deal with. Again, I ask: Why the triple-standard?”

KCOP movie critic Gary Franklin had threatened to boycott director Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” which Warner Bros. will release Nov. 18, after reading a press account stating that Lee only wanted African-American reporters to attend a New York press junket this weekend.

Franklin, citing his outrage over the report, told WB press reps that he would “refuse to see it or review it” if Lee had not relented by 5 p.m. yesterday.

Minutes before his self-imposed deadline expired, Franklin said a studio rep told him the newspaper account was incorrect and that he would be permitted to attend.

A WB spokeswoman confirmed that Franklin would be at the junket, but referred inquiries about the reported blacks-only demand to Lee, who was unavailable for comment.

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