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Oscars 2016: Co-producer Reginald Hudlin talks about his 'daunting' task

When news broke Tuesday that Reginald Hudlin and David Hill would produce the 88th Oscars, Hudlin was on a studio set, directing an episode of NBC's upcoming medical drama "Heartbreaker."

"My phone's blowing up with emails and texts and I was trying to shoot this liver transplant scene," Hudlin says, laughing.

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And the Oscar producer job goes to ... David Hill and Reginald Hudlin

The film academy cannot control minority representation in the movies that Hollywood makes. Nor can it influence the way its 7,000-plus members vote come awards season.

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The Oscars and Spike Lee: History has always been on his side

Spike Lee's relationship with the Oscars was defined nearly 25 years ago when the Motion Picture Academy gave its best picture award to "Driving Miss Daisy," a musty, modest movie about the relationship between a cranky Georgia widow and her black chauffeur while largely ignoring Lee's beautiful, uncompromising look at American race relations, "Do the Right Thing."

In the ensuing quarter century, Lee has never softened when asked about the academy's vote that year.

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"They're always going to go with the passive black servant instead of a movie that asks tough questions and offers a perspective they might not be comfortable with," Lee told me in a 2008 interview. "The Oscars' assessment of a movie's quality usually isn't held up by history. That's why they don't matter."

Last year, after Ava DuVernay's powerful civil rights drama "Selma" received only two Oscar nominations, Lee offered a characteristically blunt assessment that included a particular profanity tied to any reference to "Driving Miss Daisy."

"That doesn’t diminish the film," he told The Daily Beast, talking about "Selma's" scant showing. "Nobody’s talking about ... 'Driving Miss Daisy.' That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like 'Do the Right Thing' is. Nobody’s discussing 'Driving Miss ... Daisy.' So if I saw Ava today I’d say, 'You know what? ...  ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.'"

It's likely then that Lee will have a few choice words for academy members in November when he receives an honorary Oscar at this year's Governors Awards dinner in Hollywood. (Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds will also be honored.) The event isn't televised, offering recipients the opportunity to speak at length and from the heart without the fear that an orchestra is  preparing to play them off the stage.

Harry Belafonte gave a profoundly moving speech at last year's dinner, receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Belafonte pointedly condemned Hollywood's treatment of minorities in the past and appealed to the film community to "use their gifts" to "see the better side of who and what we are as a species."

So even though Lee, 58, says that the Oscars "don't matter," you can bet he'll use the stage of the Governors Awards to air a bold take on today's movie industry.

As for his appraisal of the 1990 Oscars, Lee -- nominated that year for original screenplay -- is absolutely correct by just about any measure. In the American Film Institute's 2007 poll of film artists, critics and historians, "Do the Right Thing" placed at No. 96, slightly after "Pulp Fiction" and immediately before "Blade Runner." (I'd argue all three should be ranked much higher.)

"Driving Miss Daisy" didn't make the list.

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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'Orphan Black's' Tatiana Maslany: 'Honored' for Emmy nod; surprised by Internet's 'nutty' reaction

Fans of Tatiana Maslany, prepared for more disappointment following back-to-back snubs by Emmy voters in recent years, were pleasantly surprised last month when the star of "Orphan Black" finally scored a nomination for her performance in the BBC America cult hit.

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Emmy chat: Jane Krakowski discusses 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' character

When we last saw Jacqueline Voorhes in Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," she was reclaiming -- or attempting to, anyway -- her Native American identity and becoming her own woman after her marriage had fallen apart.

Sure, she could barely see in the end after she chucked her blue-tinted  contacts, but that's beside the point.

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To fill in Emmy gaps, Envy Awards salute 'Mindy,' Jon Snow and more

The Emmy Awards cover a lot of territory each year in honoring the best and brightest. But they just can't get to everyone and everything that happened on TV in any given season that deserves to win a prize. That's where we come in. So without further ado, the categories we think ought to exist and the winners who should not go overlooked this season: the 2015 Envy Awards.

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