Oscar nominees discuss diversity in Hollywood amid the #OscarsSoWhite backlash


When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its 2016 Oscar nominees, only white actors and actresses were among the chosen few in the top four categories -- for the second year in a row -- resulting in the resurgence of the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and a bevy of concerns about diversity in Hollywood. Here, we keep a running list of the latest in the conversation, and the Academy’s recent response.

The Oscars don’t excite Angela Bassett anymore

In an interview with the Breakfast Club on New York’s Power 105 radio station, Oscar-nominated actress Angela Bassett vocalized her thoughts on the diversity conversation in Hollywood.

Plainly put, she’s not too excited about the Academy Awards ceremony anymore.

“When I see more inclusion, that’s when I can get more excited, when I see the work of what life looks like,” she said.

Bassett was nominated in 1994 for her turn as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to do With It?” alongside her costar Laurence Fishburne, who played Ike Turner. She lost to Holly Hunter in “The Piano.”

Check out the interview above.

Tre’vell Anderson


Video game lampoons lack of Oscars diversity: ‘Find the black nominee’

Dodge Lady Gaga. Collect Golden Globes. Find the black Oscar nominee.

Winning an Academy Award, it proves, can be nearly an impossible task, at least according to the lighthearted Web game “Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage.” The game puts players in control of a mini, vintage-style Leonardo DiCaprio in a quest for an Oscar.

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#OscarsSoWhite? Maybe not in 2017. Here’s an early look at promising contenders from upcoming films

A quick survey of the 2016 film landscape indicates that there will be a number of films featuring people of color for the academy to consider next time around.

Read More— Gregory Ellwood


Academy Award nominee the Weeknd: ‘I’m glad this has sparked a conversation’

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Abel Tesfaye, known as the Weeknd, is one of the few nominees of color for the 2016 Academy Awards. He received a nomination for “Earned It,” which appeared on the soundtrack for “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

In an exclusive interview with the L.A. Times, The Weeknd addressed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

You know, music is so diverse. My fans couldn’t even put a face or color or anything to my music. The same with film, it’s such a diverse thing. Every movie you see now is inspired by diversity. So it’s unfortunate.... but I think it’s much deeper than the academy or deeper than the film or music industry. It’s an issue that the nation has been dealing with, and I’m glad this has sparked a conversation ... it needed to happen. And good for the academy for trying to make the new changes.

— The Weeknd, Oscar nominee

Read the rest of the exclusive interview:

‘How the Weeknd got his revenge and became one of the biggest pop stars.


Steven Spielberg’s weighs in on #OscarsSoWhite

Director Steven Speilberg
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Famed director and three-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg went on the record with The Hollywood Reporter to lend his voice to the #OscarsSoWhite conversation. During an episode of the magazine’s “Awards Chatter” podcast, he said he was surprised at the snub of “Straight Outta Compton” for best picture and “Beasts of No Nation’s” Idris Elba for best supporting actor.

Check out some of his other thoughts below:

On allegations that the academy is racist

“You have to look back a couple of years where Lupita [Nyong’o] was recognized for ’12 Years a Slave’ [and] ’12 Years a Slave’ won best picture, you know? I don’t believe that there is inherent or dormant racism because of the amount of white academy members.

On the academy stripping older members of their voting rights:

“I’m not 100% sure that taking votes away from academy members who have paid their dues and maybe are retired now and have done great service — maybe they’ve not won a nomination, which would have given them immunity to the new rules, but they have served proudly and this is their industry too — to strip their votes? I’m not 100 percent behind that.”

On the academy’s other diversity commitments:

“I do think that what the academy is doing, in a proactive way, to open up the membership to diversity, I think that’s very, very important. But it’s not just the academy, and I think we have to stop pointing fingers and blaming the academy. It’s people that hire, it’s people at the main gate of studios and independents. It’s the stories that are being told. It’s who’s writing diversity — it starts on the page. And we all have to be more proactive in getting out there and just seeking talent.”


Academy president acknowledges ‘elephant in the room’ at luncheon

This year we all know there’s an elephant in the room. I have asked the elephant to leave.

— Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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Oscar nominees discuss diversity at annual luncheon

Countless celebrities have thrown their voices into the conversation on diversity in Hollywood following the limited number of people of color on the Oscar nominee list for the second year in a row. Monday, during the annual Oscars luncheon to honor all nominees, it was no different.

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#OscarsSoWhite art piece channels 1950s segregation

Artist Plastic Jesus revealed an art installation on Melrose Avenue over the weekend in response to the current boycott of the Oscars.

Referencing the 1950s photograph from Elliott Erwitt that depicted segregated drinking fountains, Plastic Jesus has done the same, only with a Hollywood-style dressing room.

Plastic Jesus made headlines with a cocaine-snorting Oscar-channeling statue from 2015. And this Melrose work is not likely to be the artist’s last thoughts on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

After revealing the Erwitt-inspired work, Plastic Jesus Instagramed a tease for the next piece, and confirmed it will be another Academy Award-centric design.


‘Creed’ director Ryan Coogler convinced Sylvester Stallone to attend the Oscars

(Rob Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

I said, ‘If you don’t want me to go, I won’t.’ He said, ‘I want you to go.’ That’s the kind of guy he is. He wanted me to stand up for the film.

— Sylvester Stallone, supporting actor Oscar nominee

Read the full story and interview here.

Tre’vell Anderson


Protest outside Oscar nominees lunch

Update: By 11:00 the small group of protesters were no longer at the Hilton entrance. Beverly Hills PD say they left of their own accord.


There’s talk about bringing back the Black Oscars

The annual Tree of Life Awards was launched in 1981 at a time when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rarely recognized black achievements. By that time, only 27 African Americans had been nominated in the 52-year history of the Oscars, with only three winning. The awards, known as the Black Oscars, ended in 2007.

But with the academy nominating an all-white slate of actors for the second year in a row, Gil Robertson, president of the African American Film Critics Assn., says the circumstances that prompted the Black Oscars are prevalent again.

Read MoreTre'vell Anderson


How Sacheen Littlefeather’s 1973 Oscars speech inspires #OscarsSoWhite advocates today

In 1973, Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather refused to accept Marlon Brando’s Oscar for his lead acting role in “The Godfather” in front of millions of viewers. On Brando’s behalf, she used the opportunity to make a political statement decrying the stereotyping of Native Americans in movies and TV, and to support American Indian Movement activists at Wounded Knee, S.D. Some in the audience booed, but others found it inspiring, even years after the event.

Jada Pinkett Smith recently wrote to Littlefeather saying that watching a clip of the Oscars speech provided validation for her boycott of the Oscars this year:

Dear Sacheen Littlefeather: I am deeply honored that you took the time to write me. I am very aware of who you are and I have watched your speech at the Oscars many times. Your speech and the position you and Mr. Brando took was a much needed validation for my position. Thank you for being one of the brave and courageous to help pave the way for those of us who need a reminder of the importance to simply be true. I will cherish your words and sentiments in hopes that our paths may cross in this lifetime. Until then may the Great Spirit guide us all and may Mother Earth continue to keep us in her compassionate embrace. In friendship, Jada Pinkett Smith.

— Jada Pinkett Smith’s letter to Sacheen Littlefeather

Read our full interview with Sacheen Littlefeather here.

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Congressmen send letter to film academy and call diversity plan a ‘first step’

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs was applauded by two congressmen for the organization's new diversity initiatives, but their recent letter called for more action
((Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Though the talents of African Americans have been recognized throughout the Academy’s history, overall progress in the entertainment industry — like many other industries — has been uneven and mirrors our society’s struggle for diversity.

— Representatives Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) statement via letter to academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

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‘Creed’ co-writer Aaron Covington on Oscar boycott: ‘It’s doing a lot of good’

“I think there’s a lot of unfair treatment,” Covington said at a panel Wednesday night sponsored by the Committee of Black Writers at the Writers Guild of America, West. “We’re knocking down doors every day, with every movie.”

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President Obama weighs in on Oscar diversity debate

(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Speaking to KABC-TV’s David Ono during the latest series of “Live from the White House” interviews, President Obama offered his thoughts on the Oscar diversity debate.

California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country. That’s a strength. I think that when everyone’s story is told, then that makes for better art. It makes for better entertainment. It makes everybody feel part of one American family. So I think, as a whole, the industry should do what every other industry should do -- which is to look for talent, provide opportunity to everybody. And I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue. Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?

— President Obama, ‘Live from the White House’


Laurence Fishburne on Hollywood’s diversity: ‘We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s gotten better’

Hollywood veteran and “black-ish” star Laurence Fishburne appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday night and spoke a bit about the fervor surrounding this year’s Academy Awards.

When Colbert inquired if matters of diversity had improved since Fishburne began his career as a 14-year old in “Apocalypse Now,” Fishburne replied: “It’s gotten better. We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s gotten better.”

However, Fishburne is anticipating one thing about the upcoming Oscars: “I just can’t wait to see how Chris Rock handles it as the host of the Oscars. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”


‘What will Chris Rock say?’ has become a top guessing game in #OscarsSoWhite debate

Chris Rock will again host the Oscars this year.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, ‘I’m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.’”

— Oscars producer Reginald Hudlin on Chris Rock

What will Chris Rock say?

That’s one of the main questions surrounding the 88th Academy Awards, which have already become engulfed in an international debate over racial diversity, with the Feb. 28 ceremony still more than a month away.

Reginald Hudlin, who is co-producing the telecast on ABC, told “Entertainment Tonight” that Rock, hired last year as host, had blown up his originally planned monologue as the #OscarsSoWhite controversy has raised awareness about the lack of black nominees in major performing categories.

“He and his writing staff locked themselves in a room,” Hudlin said of Rock. “As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, ‘I’m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.’”

That led to buzz that Rock was planning to lob some scorching one-liners about the debate. Charlotte Rampling, Michael Caine and Ian McKellen are among the stars who have now waded into the controversy, and some household names, such as Will Smith and Spike Lee, have said they won’t attend the ceremony. Pressure even built on Rock himself to bow out.

But Rock’s spokeswoman dismissed the speculation about the monologue, saying that neither Hudlin, “nor anyone else, speaks for Chris.”

Read MoreScott Collins


Academy explains new rules to members

Actor John Krasinski, left, and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs are seen announcing nominees for the lead actor Oscar earlier this month.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a letter to members Monday explaining how it will interpret and enforce the sweeping rule changes passed last week with the aim of diversifying the organization.

The new rules, which include a commitment to doubling the number of women and minorities in the academy by 2020 and limiting lifetime voting rights, have created a furor among existing members, many of whom are concerned about their status.

“These new measures are meant to uphold our longstanding mission that Oscars are voted on by active members in the motion picture industry,” the academy said in its letter. “They are also meant to be fair and inclusive in their definition of an active member of our community.”

Rebecca KeeganRead More


Academy’s changes don’t address ‘root cause’ of diversity problem, DGA president says

Paris Barclay, DGA president.
(Paul A. Hebert / Associated Press)

The president of the Directors Guild of America weighed in on the #OscarsSoWhite discussion Monday -- labeling the lack of women and people of color in the movie and TV biz “a condition that has long shamed this industry” -- and called for structural changes at Hollywood’s gatekeeper level.

“Many times, with the best of intentions, a subject that is a symptom of this industry plague, but not the root cause, is targeted. The Academy’s decisions... are important actions and may lead to greater acknowledgement of more diverse films and people who make them,” Paris Barclay said in a statement.

However, he said, increasing the diversity of people and projects at the awards-consideration point won’t do much to solve Hollywood’s underlying diversity issues.

Many times, with the best of intentions, a subject that is a symptom of this industry plague, but not the root cause, is targeted.

— Paris Barclay, Directors Guild of America president

“Those who control the pipeline and entryway to jobs must move beyond the ‘old boy’ network and word-of-mouth hiring,” Barclay said.

“They must commit to industry-wide efforts to find available diverse talent that is out there in abundance, or to train and create opportunities for new voices entering our industry. Rules must be implemented to open up the hiring process and rethink the idea of ‘approved lists.’”

This isn’t the first time Barclay has called for change in Hollywood’s hiring practices.

A DGA study released in January 2015 found that 87% of 487 first-time directors in network TV (over five seasons from 2009-13) were white. Women made up 18% of those first-timers.

“Every director needs a first shot to break into the business,” Barclay said at the time.

“What this report reveals is that studios, networks and executive producers need to challenge their own hiring practices and offer talented women and minority directors the same opportunities they are giving white males.”

Christie D’Zurilla


Nick Cannon says the Oscars don’t matter

Don’t be distracted. These three words end a spoken word video posted by rapper-turned-actor Nick Cannon on his Facebook page. The two-minute poem is his response to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy leading pop culture news.

“Look what they did to Oscar,” the “Chi-Raq” star begins. “Nah, not another trophy rant. I’m talking Oscar Grant, Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray. Why we trust what the news say anyway? It’s blasphemous, don’t get distracted by these lottery tickets and statues. It’s just fake gold and plastic.”

Tre’vell AndersonRead More


Gay actors also ‘disregarded’ by film industry, Ian McKellen says

Ian McKellen sympathizes with black actors.
(Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images)

Ian McKellen considers the complaints behind the #OscarsSoWhite discussion are legit, but aren’t the whole story.

“As a representative of the industry they’re in, it’s receiving complaints which I fully sympathize with,” the 76-year-old actor told Sky News on Monday.

“It’s not only black people who’ve been disregarded by the film industry, it used to be women, it’s certainly gay people to this day.”

McKellen, who’s been nominated twice in the Academy Awards’ best actor category but has not won an Oscar, is openly gay -- he came out publicly at age 49, in 1988.

“I didn’t turn myself into a queer actor, which I think a lot of people rather expected I ought to do or that was my new responsibility,” McKellen told the Daily Mail last June. “I find heterosexuality far too interesting a phenomenon to avoid! Macbeth isn’t gay nor is Richard III, or King Lear. I didn’t want to cut myself off from all those things.”

— Christie D’Zurilla


Matt Damon says ‘huge systemic injustices’ around race and gender are ‘bigger than the Oscars’

Matt Damon told reporters Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival that the academy’s move to diversify its voting membership is “a wonderful first step,” but noted that there’s still “a long, long, long way to go.”

“We’re talking about huge systemic injustices around race and gender that are a lot bigger than the Oscars,” Damon told the Associated Press. “They’re massive issues in our industry and in our country.”

Speaking to Us Weekly on the “Manchester By the Sea” red carpet, he called it “shameful and embarrassing” to go two years without any people of color nominated in the Oscars’ acting categories. “That’s insane.”

You know, it’s shameful and embarrassing. There’s two years in a row that there are no people of color nominated. That’s insane.

— Matt Damon, academy member

That’d be the same Matt Damon who found himself in hot water last September after appearing to interrupt Effie Brown, a black producer, so he could explain diversity to her in an episode of “Project Greenlight.”

He quickly apologized and said in a statement that he’d been taken out of context when he said diversity should be addressed in “the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show,” meaning not in selection of the director or producers.

“My comments were part of a much broader conversation about diversity in Hollywood and the fundamental nature of ‘Project Greenlight’ which did not make the show.

“I am sorry that they offended some people, but, at the very least, I am happy that they started a conversation about diversity in Hollywood. That is an ongoing conversation that we all should be having.”

The apology earned him criticism as well, over the notion that the incident had “started” the conversation.

Christie D’Zurilla


Chris Rock is not boycotting. But he is reworking that monologue.

Comedian Chris Rock has already addressed the Academy Awards racial controversy on Twitter by jokingly referring to the Oscars as "the white BET Awards."
(Rob Latour / Invision / Associated Press)

Many have called for Oscars host Chris Rock to step down from the gig in racial solidarity for the virtual shutout of people of color from the academy’s list of nominees. But according to Reginald Hudlin, a producer of the Feb. 28 event, don’t count on it.

In an interview with ET’s Nischelle Turner at the NAACP Image Awards Nominee Luncheon on Saturday, he confirmed that Rock will not be dropping out of the show. In fact, he says the 50-year-old comedian is working on a new script of jokes to address the #OscarsSoWhite outrage.

“Chris is hard at work,” Hudlin said. “He and his writing staff locked themselves in a room. As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, ‘I’m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.’”

“Chris is that thorough,” Hudlin added. “He’s that brilliant, and I have 1,000% confidence that he will deliver something that people will be talking about for weeks.”

Audiences can expect Rock to be as direct as possible when confronting the controversy, said Hudlin.

“And, yes, the academy is ready for him to do that,” he said. “They’re excited about him doing that. They know that’s what we need. They know that’s what the public wants, and we deliver what the people want.”

Tre’vell Anderson


Charlotte Rampling, Julie Delpy ‘clarify’ comments

Actresses Charlotte Rampling (who’s nominated for lead actress in “45 Years”) and Julie Delpy clarified their comments regarding the #OscarsSoWhite controversy over the weekend.

Rampling, who surmised that the calls for an Academy Awards boycott were “racist to white people,” released a statement to CBS News.

“I regret that my comments could have been misinterpreted this week...,” she said. “I simply meant to say that in an ideal world every performance will be given equal opportunities for consideration. I am very honored to be included in this year’s wonderful group of nominated actors and actresses.”

Delpy’s original comments came during an interview with The Wrap at Sundance, in which she remembered speaking up about diversity in 2014.

“Two years ago, I said something about the academy being very white male, which is the reality, and I was slashed to pieces by the media,” she said. “It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African American, because people don’t bash them afterward.”

She added, “It’s the hardest to be a woman. Feminists is something people hate above all. Nothing worse than being a woman in this business. I really believe that.”

Delpy apologized in a statement released to Entertainment Weekly.

The statement reads: “I’m very sorry for how I expressed myself. It was never meant to diminish the injustice done to African American artists or to any other people that struggle for equal opportunities and rights, on the contrary. All I was trying to do is to address the issues of inequality of opportunity in the industry for women as well (as I am a woman). I never intended to underestimate anyone else’s struggle! We should stay alert and united and support each other to change this unfair reality and don’t let anyone sabotage our common efforts by distorting the truth.”

Delpy added, “Again I’m so sorry for this unfortunate misunderstanding, people who know me, know very well that I can’t stand inequality and injustice of any kind.”

Tre’vell Anderson


Jimmy Kimmel addresses #OscarsSoWhite -- in the worst way possible

Host Jimmy Kimmel created a bit on his late-night show Jan. 20 in response to calls for the academy and Hollywood to diversify its ranks and the films that get recognition. But many didn’t find it funny.

The sketch involved a supposed representative of the academy introducing new marketing, casting and titling choices for the films nominated for best picture -- to make them more diverse and appealing to black audiences. The problem? The bit bought into a number of trite stereotypes: “The Big Short” became “The Big Shawty” starring rapper Lil’ Bow Wow; “Room” became “Crib” with Queen Latifah and Kevin Hart; and “The Martian” became “The Martin” with a poster of actor Martin Lawrence’s face with the words “Bring Homie Home” over it.

With a number of people expressing their disdain online, and a scathing editorial from Ebony magazine, Kimmel did tweet out apologies to one fan.


And the winner is... ‘all the white guys.’

As the world continues to voice its thoughts on the mostly white list of Oscar nominees, “Saturday Night Live” added its social commentary to the #OscarsSoWhite conversation in this week’s episode, hosted by fighter Ronda Rousey.

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‘This is a first step’: Spike Lee tells The Times why he’s still not going to the Oscars

Spike Lee, director of the film "Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall," in the L.A. Times photo & video studio Jan. 23 at the Sundance Film Festival.
Spike Lee, director of the film “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall,” in the L.A. Times photo & video studio Jan. 23 at the Sundance Film Festival.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

How is she going to change something overnight, hocus pocus?

— Spike Lee on Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Spike Lee still won’t be going to the Academy Awards.

The director on Saturday applauded the moves this week by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to improve diversity within its ranks. But he said he would not back down from his Jan. 18 vow to skip the ceremony in protest over the academy nominating an all-white slate of actors for the second year in a row.

“I’m going to the Knicks game,” Lee said in an interview with The Times. “I’m not doing any punk move. We made a stance. We’re not going to change that. You will not see us on the Left Coast.”

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Danny DeVito says we live in a racist country

Danny DeVito commented on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in an AP video while at Sundance.

“We are a bunch of racists,” the actor said ruefully, adding that racist tendencies still permeate the entire country.

Don Cheadle and Sam Neill chime in after DeVito. Both express concern over the situation, with Neill admitting that he lives in a sheltered corner of the world that doesn’t often think about such issues.


How actors are nominated for Oscars: A primer

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the Oscars, has approved diversity-minded membership changes.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Who nominates the actors for the Oscars? And how does the voting process work? Here’s a step-by-step primer:

The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has 6,261 voting members. The entire body votes for best picture.

Nominations for most of the remaining categories are determined by the balloting of the academy’s various branches. A committee selects the foreign-language film nominees.

Nominations for the four acting categories are determined by the actors branch. It is, by far, the academy’s largest branch with 1,138 voting members.

Before Friday’s announcement, to become a member of the actors branch, an actor had to apply in writing and have that application signed by two current branch members. Under those rules, to qualify for membership, an actor needed three film credits, including one from the past five years. One exception: Most Oscar nominees receive an immediate invitation.

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‘The conversation was raging’: Academy president reveals why Oscars rule changes were fast-tracked

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announces 2016's lead actor Oscar nominations with actor John Krasinski.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Our members are in a business where people come in and out. Our goal is to make our voting body reflective of filmmaking professionals who are active today.

— Cheryl Boone Isaacs, academy president

Following a week of protests and intense scrutiny, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 51-member board of governors on Thursday night unanimously approved a series of sweeping and historic changes designed to diversify its membership.

The extensive new rules include a commitment to doubling the number of women and minorities in the academy by 2020 and limiting lifetime voting rights.

“It’s the right thing to do,” academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in an interview Friday. “We’ve been a more than predominantly white institution for a long time. We thought, we’ve got to change this and reflect the community much better.”

The board’s action comes as the academy has faced a backlash over selecting an all-white slate of acting nominees for the second year in a row. Director Spike Lee and actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith pledged to stay home from the Oscars telecast on Feb. 28, and activists called for a boycott of the show.

The academy board, which Boone Isaacs said had been planning some of these changes for months, accelerated its schedule in response to the burgeoning crisis, approving the measures in an emergency meeting at the academy’s Beverly Hills offices.

“It was not difficult, and it did not take long,” Boone Isaacs said of the board’s vote. “The process here had already begun. Last Thursday [the day of the Oscar nominations], we really just kicked that into high gear. The conversation out there was raging.”

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New voting rules for some, but not for Oscar-winners


Audience weighs in on academy’s new diversity plan

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The reviews are coming in on the film academy’s pledge to diversify its membership within the next four years. A sampling from our readers:

Well it’s good just in the fact that it should be rotating. It shouldn’t be the same people always voting. It should differ. It will give a better and more broad outlook on what movies and actors/actresses deserve awards.

— Elizabeth on Facebook

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Changing the membership won’t make any difference. The issue is the industry. And in an industry driven by privilege, entitlement, power and money, equality of any sort is an oxymoron.

— MaxMank on

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Irrespective of their membership demographic, if minorities don’t produce award-worthy performances, not much will change.

— Michael on Facebook

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Now that seems like it’s forced and imposed. They will meet quotas based on pressures, not especially because the nominees were/are the most talented.

— Linda on Facebook

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This really isn’t an Academy problem; it’s a Hollywood problem. 

— Jon on Facebook

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What do you think of the academy’s plan to double its number of women and minority members and revise automatic lifetime membership? Join our discussion on the story or on Facebook.


#OscarsSoWhite creator: ‘Thank you for listening. Now, what’s next?’

As the creator of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite — now heard, read and felt around the world — April Reign finds herself as the catalyst behind a move to diversify the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and broader Hollywood depictions of marginalized people. Her efforts led to a decision by the academy, announced Friday, to augment its membership rules and commit to doubling the number of women and minority members in the academy by 2020.

In a call with Reign moments after she read the news on her Twitter timeline, the former attorney shared her thoughts on the news.

Tre’vell AndersonRead More


Former Academy president hopes rule change won’t dilute awards

(Todd Williamson / Associated Press)

“I’m thrilled that they took action. I like that they’ve acted fast. I think they’ve acted well,” former academy President Hawk Koch said in a statement Friday. Koch congratulated the whole board, hailing its change as “smart,” though he tempered that by saying the he hoped “this is as far as it goes.”

I do not believe we should be increasing the number of movies or nominations to try and get people nominated. It dilutes the awards. There are a lot of people who were in the business and now they’re gone, in real estate or another field. They’re not in the business, and yet they get a chance to vote. This addresses that.

“I do want to make sure that no matter who we bring in, they have the same level of expertise and qualification for membership, that it is not diluted to bring in more women and diverse members, but it stays high,” he continued.

Koch, a veteran producer, served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for one year before stepping down in 2013.


Ice Cube weighs in on Oscars controversy

Ice Cube appeared on British talk show “The Graham Norton Show” on Friday and took a moment to speak about “Straight Outta Compton” and the unfolding Oscars controversy, saying, “We don’t do movies for the industry. We do movies for the fans, for the people.”


Filmmaker Robert Greenwald praises Academy’s diversity push

“I’m in favor of anything that will increase diversity. It’s a need and a requirement,” said Robert Greenwald, an Academy member and the founder and president of Brave New Films, in a statement on Friday. “We all have to face the fact that Hollywood is a white male world. This clearly got through to the [Academy] membership and I’m glad it did.

“You have to change the system and the rules and that by its nature will create more diverse films. I’m a follow the money guy and there’s a huge Latino, woman and black audience not being served ... and the green lighters are seeing that more and more. You’re now beginning to see more diverse casting.”


SAG-AFTRA president weighs in on Academy’s rule change

Ken Howard is the first elected president of SAG-AFTRA.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

I think the effort is well intended and I think it should be acceptable to people. The criticism is that [the Academy] is just a bunch of old white guys -- and that’s fair --- and how are we going to remedy that? They are doing that.

— Ken Howard, veteran actor and president of SAG-AFTRA, the union representing about 160,000 actors and other performers


Director Ava DuVernay responds to the Academy’s changes: ‘Shame is a helluva motivator’


Academy changes rules amid #OscarsSoWhite backlash

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, right, and actor John Krasinski announce the films nominated for best picture.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Academy’s 51-member Board of Governors approved a sweeping series of changes designed to diversity its membership, the academy said in a statement Friday.

The board committed to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the academy by 2020.

Read MoreRebecca Keegan


Graphic: Here’s why nominating more actors wouldn’t fix the Oscar diversity

Of the 25 nominees in acting and directing categories this year, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu is the only non-white person. By examining the actors and directors that Times critics identified as having received Oscars buzz during the awards season without being nominated, we found the racial diversity of nominees increased only from 4% to 8%.

Read More— Kyle Kim


‘You can’t just vote for an actor because he’s black,’ Michael Caine says

(Christina House / For The Times)

Asked about Hollywood’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine said Friday that a person can’t honor an actor based on race alone.

“I think, in the end, you can’t just vote for an actor because he’s black,” the 82-year-old Brit explained on BBC Radio 4, where he was promoting his new movie “Youth.”

“You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to vote for him, he’s not very good, but he’s black, I’ll vote for him.’ You’ve got to give a good performance, and I’m sure there were very good ... I don’t know whether Idris got it, because I saw Idris [Elba, in ‘Beast of No Nation,’] and I thought he was wonderful. Did he not get nominated?

Nope, he did not. The best actor nominees this year are Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender and Eddie Redmayne.

“Well, look at me,” Caine said. “I won best European award, best actor, I got nominated for nothing else.” This was at the 2015 European Film Awards, where he took top acting honors for “Youth.” Charlotte Rampling, the Oscar nominee whose comment that the #OscarsSoWhite controversy is “racist to whites” sparked headlines Friday, won best actress for “45 Years” at those awards, as well as a lifetime achievement award.

“The great thing about it,” Caine said, “is you don’t have to go. ...especially the Oscar. Twenty-four hours on an airplane, I’m going to sit there and clap for Leonardo DiCaprio. And I love Leonardo, he played my son in a movie, but I don’t ... I’m too old to travel to sit in an audience and clap for someone else.”

Prompted by the interviewer about whether his message to non-white actors was to be patient, that it would come, he said, “Of course it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar. Years.”

Hear Caine’s full interview -- he’s promoting his new movie “Youth” -- here, or listen to the portion about the Oscars controversy here.

Christie D’Zurilla


How CBS’ diversity stage show may help TV from having an #OscarsSoWhite moment

Past editions of the Diversity Showcase have helped launch TV stars such as Randall Park of ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat."
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The national debate over diversity in the entertainment industry is one of the most serious issues Hollywood has faced in years.

Or at least it was until the 23 young performers in CBS’ annual Diversity Showcase in North Hollywood this week got their hands on the topic.

Thursday night’s comedy show at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood had barely started when an assistant ran onstage to tell director Rick Najera that the cast had mysteriously disappeared. “Are they boycotting the Oscars?” Najera deadpanned.

Read MoreScott Collins


William H. Macy applauds those boycotting the Oscars

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

William H. Macy of “Room” and “Shameless,” who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in 1996’s “Fargo,” applauded the actors partaking in this year’s boycott, discussing the controversy with Us Weekly at the Casting Society of America’s 31st Artios Awards in Beverly Hills.

Good for them. Good for them. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. It’s not right. Someone’s gotta say it. They said it. I applaud them.

— ‘Room’ star William H. Macy


Nominee Charlotte Rampling calls Oscars uproar ‘racist to whites’

Charlotte Rampling, Oscar nominated for her lead role in “45 Years,” has taken an opinion contrary to most actors so far: The current uproar is, she said Friday, “racist to whites.”

“One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” the 69-year-old Brit said, speaking in French on radio network Europe 1, as translated by the Guardian.

Rampling, who is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, also didn’t see the point of having something like a quota system, a notion proposed by her interviewer: “Why classify people?,” she answered. “These days everyone is more or less accepted ... People will always say: ‘Him, he’s less handsome’; ‘Him, he’s too black’; ‘He is too white’ ... Someone will always be saying ‘You are too [this or that]’ ... But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”

On Twitter, Rampling’s detractors outnumbered her supporters Friday, with many of the latter saying her Oscar hopes were now down the drain. Others called her an “idiot,” an “old white lady,” “ignorant,” “racist” and “the definition of an old school FOOL.” Many supporters praised her mention of merit.

The other nominees for best actress are Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence and Saoirse Ronan.

In his December review, The Times’ movie critic Kenneth Turan called Rampling’s turn “45 Years” turn “the role of her career.” And dubbed the film a “superb yet restrained drama of the highest order, definitely not to be missed.”

Christie D’Zurilla


Viola Davis: ‘If there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?’

Viola Davis poses with her Primetime Emmy Award on Sept. 20, 2015.
Viola Davis poses with her Primetime Emmy Award on Sept. 20, 2015.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Viola Davis, a two-time Academy Award nominee and the first black actress to win a Primetime Emmy Award for a leading role in a drama, told Entertainment Tonight that the Oscars aren’t really the issue, but “a symptom of a much greater disease.”

How many black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role? Can you cast a black woman in that role? Can you cast a black man in that role? The problem is not with the Oscars. The problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system. ... You can change the academy, but if there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?

— ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ star Viola Davis, a two-time Oscar nominee


Why the diversity controversy won’t hurt the Academy Awards’ bottom line

So far, no advertisers have pulled out of the Feb. 28 Oscars telecast, sources say. Above, cameraman Brian Reason struggles with equipment at a 2014 preshow event.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The lack of diversity among Academy Awards nominees could tarnish the Oscars’ image, but the furor is unlikely to cause much financial damage to this year’s telecast.

The ABC television network already had sold nearly of all of its commercial time in the show before the controversy erupted. Most advertisers had finalized their commitments in September and October, and so far, none of the advertisers have pulled out of the Feb. 28 broadcast, according to two people close to the award show who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

Read MoreMeg James


Marlon Wayans gets funny -- and serious -- with the #OscarsSoWhite boycott

(Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times)

We should have a sit-down with the Academy, but we should also have a sit-down with the film studios because we’re not getting the budgets that we need to get that kind of consideration. Look, ‘The Revenant’ was made for a lot of money. The bear alone was $100 million. And I’m sure the Oscars are going, ‘What are you angry about? The black bear was awesome in ‘The Revenant!’ 

— Marlon Wayans

Read More


Reese Witherspoon speaks... or types


We’ve been here before

In this 1962 file photo, actor Gregory Peck is shown as attorney Atticus Finch in a scene from "To Kill a Mockingbird." Peck also was president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
(Universal Studios / AP)

In 1970, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences faced a dilemma similar to what it does today — a membership that may not be best reflective of modern-day Hollywood. Here is how it dealt with the issue then, from our archives.

Read More


Readers sound off about Oscar boycott

With debate about diversity in Hollywood and the possibility of some actors boycotting the Oscars, one big question is will you, the viewer at home, actually tune out.

Here’s a selection of what you told us about your plans, and whether an Oscar boycott—or planned absence—is warranted:

I will probably watch because the movies nominated still have merit. I think that problem goes deeper than the nominations. The stories that we tell need to be more diverse in nature, so that a larger pool of diverse actors can be eligible for nomination.

— <a href=””>Diane, on Facebook</a>

This coming from rich black actors/filmmakers who have won these kinds of awards. ... If they are mad at studios, between many, they have enough capital to start their own, and produce Oscar-worthy movies.

— <a href=”{%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22}”>Russ, on Facebook</a>

Hell, yeah, I’m gonna watch the Oscars!! Hopefully we’ll finally see Leo get his much-deserved Oscar, and it’s gonna be awesome.

— <a href=””’>Melissa, on Facebook</a>

Even before this brouhaha, I’ve never had interest in watching the Oscars. I cringe at seeing a sea of White faces and a token minority or award thrown in every now and then to make it appear Hollywood is diverse and inclusive.

— <a href=””>derekgrrrrr, on</a>

I’ve personally felt the Oscars were irrelevant for several years now, and don’t, and won’t, watch them.

— <a href=””>John, on Facebook</a>

Protesting the Oscars is far too late in the game. If you want to protest, protest the shortage of good minority roles that *generates* this lack of Oscar attention.

— <a href=””>Eric, on Facebook</a>

Look, art is subjective. ... What needs to happen is on the ‘business’ side of our show business. We need greater representation of all types of people when it comes to the writing, casting, producing and all-around creation of entertainment. Once that edges closer to the norm, our awards shows will reflect that improved reality.

— <a href=””>Eric, on Facebook</a>

This is not about black or white. This is about the best film artists of the year. 

— <a href=””>George, on Facebook</a>

What do you think: Should actors boycott the Oscars? Will you watch or tune out? Tell us why here or on Facebook.


Robert Redford touts Sundance diversity but holds tongue on #OscarsSoWhite

With the #OscarsSoWhite controversy boiling over in Hollywood, Sundance Film Festival chief Robert Redford took the podium Thursday and affirmed the festival’s role as a place for diverse stories but declined to jump into the fray.

“Diversity comes out of the word ‘independence’ — that’s the principal word that we operate from,” Redford said when asked about Sundance’s role in promoting diversity. “Generally, it’s something we’re pretty proud of.”

The Motion Picture Academy has come under fire for not nominating black actors in any of its performance categories this year. The Sundance co-founder spoke in general terms about the importance of minority representation but declined to engage directly with the question of Academy Award nominations. When pressed further on the issue of the snubs, he and Sundance director John Cooper demurred.

“Why are you asking us?” Cooper said with a small smile.

“I’m not into Oscars,” Redford added, perhaps cheekily. He added later, “What I mean is, I’m not focused on that part. For me, it’s about the work.”

As a venue for voices outside mainstream Hollywood, Sundance has prided itself on movies from black filmmakers. Among the movies it has premiered in that vein in recent years are “Dope,” “Fruitvale Station” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Redford was careful to draw a line between showcasing those movies and taking a more activist position.

“The artists are making films about what’s on the public’s mind ... and because we’re in support of the artists we say, ‘Well, what do they come up with?’ ” he said. “We don’t take a position of advocacy.”

Diversity will be on the minds of both filmmakers and attendees during the nation’s preeminent film festival for the next 11 days. The festival will screen work from a range of black filmmakers and performers, which is sure to further the heated diversity debate already happening in Hollywood.

Steven Zeitchik and Amy KaufmanRead More


Here’s what the Academy may do about the #OscarsSoWhite boycott

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs arrives at the ICG Publicists Awards in Beverly Hills on Feb. 20, 2015.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs arrives at the ICG Publicists Awards in Beverly Hills on Feb. 20, 2015.
((Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will weigh new rules intended to encourage more diversity among its membership and its nominations, The Times has learned.

The academy’s 51-member Board of Governors has added the diversity issue to the agenda for its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night in response to an outcry over an all-white slate of acting nominees for the second year in a row, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Read MoreRebecca Keegan


Quincy Jones on lack of diversity: ‘It’s ridiculous. It’s wrong’

(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

Quincy Jones, the first African American to be appointed to the Academy’s board of governors, addressed the diversity issue on Wednesday and vowed to speak to the board about it next week, according to Variety.

“There’s two ways to [protest] it,” he said at the National Assn. of Television Program Executives conference. “You can boycott it or you can solve it and fix it. It’s frightening to see [nominees] 90% white and 80% white males. It’s ridiculous. It’s wrong.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Quincy back in 1996 when he produced the telecast.


#TBT Oscars were also so white in 1996

In 1996, the same year “Braveheart” won five Oscars, Academy Award- and Grammy-winning producer Quincy Jones was the first African American to produce the telecast, which he dubbed the “crown jewel of all the awards shows.” Jones worked side-by-side with second-time host and good friend Whoopi Goldberg on the ceremony.

Despite having a black producer and host, race was a timely topic of conversation at the 68th Academy Awards most likely due to the fact that there was only one black nominee that year, live-action short film director Dianne Houston. Tinseltown wasn’t happy about it either, and prominent figures such as Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition staged protests at ABC affiliates nationwide to fight “race exclusion and cultural violence” within the motion picture industry.

Here’s what a they told The Times’ about race in Hollywood in the 1990s.

It hurts, but it’s been hurting a long time. In a way, all of this kind of just reflects what is happening in the country. I mean, you know you are in trouble when you have a [political] party which is going after polarization.  It’s astounding. Marlon Brando, who has been a friend of mine since ‘51, said to me a couple of years ago, ‘After all the stuff we have gone through all of these years, you would never, ever guess that in the ‘90s we would have such a Neanderthal sensibility about race relations.’ It’s like Dickens: In some ways, it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times.

— Oscars producer Quincy Jones in 1996

Read Jones’ full 1996 Q&A here.

We have always known that there are not a lot of us being seen on the big screen or the little screen. Look at the top five shows. We are not in ‘Friends.’ There are no Asian [regulars] in ‘Friends.’ There are no Puerto Ricans in ‘Friends.’ There are no black people on ‘Frasier.’ There are no black people on ‘Seinfeld.’  Segregation, the slow segregation of the entertainment industry is only sort of re-dawning itself. People are starting to see it again. For a long time we were everywhere. But slowly, you don’t see anybody. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if the marketplace is demanding a throwback to another time or, rather, people are just sticking to what they know.

— 68th Academy Awards host Whoopi Goldberg in 1996

Read Goldberg’s full 1996 Q&A here.

Rev. Jesse Jackson at a September 1996 event.
(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

Hollywood does well projecting, but it doesn’t do so well reflecting [upon itself when it comes to diversity]

— Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1996

Check out Jackson’s full 1996 interviews here and here.

Nardine Saad


#FactCheck: White people do win BET and NAACP Image awards

Donald Trump weighed in on the #OscarsSoWhite situation Wednesday by pointing out what some are calling a double standard: Why do black people get to criticize the Oscars for being nearly all white, when white people don’t get nominated at the BET Awards?

In a remote interview with Fox and Friends, Trump said he was impressed with “Clueless” actress and Fox News correspondent Stacey Dash, who suggested that there shouldn’t be a Black History Month, and that the BET Awards and the NAACP Image Awards shouldn’t exist.

Black awards shows are a problem, she said, because “you’re only awarded if you’re black.” In his interview, Donald Trump agreed, and went a bit further – saying that “the whites don’t get any nominations” at the BET awards.

But the lie detector test determined that was a lie...

The list of white people who have been honored by such entities include Sam Smith, Eminem, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, etc.

Dexter ThomasRead More


Oscar winner Steve McQueen calls for ‘fair bite’

Steve McQueen was the first black director to win an Academy Award earlier this year.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

One of the most recent black Oscar nominees (and winners) is director Steve McQueen whose “12 Years a Slave” won best picture in 2014. He spoke with BBC News about his thoughts on #OscarsSoWhite.

“I think racism has a lot to do with it but also the whole idea of people not being adventurous enough in thinking outside of the box of what they possibly think is the norm,” he said. “It’s about those story lines and those actors a fair bite.”


Steve Harvey: ‘I respect the boycott.’

Steve Harvey on the set of his talk show.
(Chuck Hodes / Associated Press)

While being honored by the National Association of Television Program Executives, talk/game show host Steve Harvey spoke with Extra’s AJ Calloway about the Academy Awards controversy.

“I respect the boycott,” he said.

He then reiterated, addressing the absence of nominees of color directly: “Nobody? I mean that’s really, really weird. You look at the films and you come away with nobody? That’s... that’s kind of crazy.”

But Harvey is not a supporter of calls for host Chris Rock to step down.

“You can’t dump that on him, and I think that night, I think we need Chris Rock,” he said. “Chris Rock is going to say something that night.”

Following his honor, he furthered his thoughts with Access Hollywood’s Liz Hernandez.

“You take Chris off, ain’t no blacks. Nowhere,” he said. “You can’t go forward and backwards at the same time. Chris Rock will be the best thing for the movement for the Oscars, than even the people not showing up. Trust and believe, Chris Rock is too smart and courageous of a guy, and I think he should host the Oscars.”

Harvey went on to detail that Rock’s comedy career has prepared him to effectively address the #OscarsSoWhite backlash.

“This is his gig. It’s his career, it’s his shot. He’s a host. Chris Rock’s not an actor, Chris Rock will never, ever get an Oscar. He knows that. Let the man do what he do, but he’s going to say something that night that will be beneficial to a lot of people,” he said.

[Though Rock is an actor. He had a short stint on “Empire” and fronted films like “Top Five” and “Down to Earth.”]

But don’t expect to see Harvey on the carpet of the Academy Awards.

“I’m going to help with the boycott; I’m not going,” he told Access. Then: “I wasn’t invited.”


UPDATE: Mark Ruffalo will attend Oscars

Actor Mark Ruffalo, whose movie “Spotlight” is nominated for best picture, spoke to BBC News about whether or not he’ll attend the award ceremony. [Updated at 10:30 a.m. Ruffalo has recently clarified his position on attending the Oscars, see below.]

Before answering Ruffalo first called out the entire “American system” as being rife with “white privilege racism.”

As for the ceremony itself, he still hasn’t decided.

“I’m weighing it, yes. That’s where I’m at right now,” Ruffalo said. “I woke up in the morning thinking, ‘what is the right way to do this?’ Because if you look at Martin Luther King’s legacy, what he was saying was, the good people who don’t act are much worse than the people, the wrongdoers, who are purposely not acting and don’t know the right way.”

Turns out Ruffalo has thought it over, and decided he will go to the Oscars. He took to his Twitter account to explain.


Between a Rock and a hard place

Comedian Chris Rock has already addressed the Academy Awards racial controversy on Twitter by jokingly referring to the Oscars as "the white BET Awards."
(Rob Latour / Invision / Associated Press)

Comedian Chris Rock is in the awkward position of hosting an Oscars ceremony which, for the second year in a row, will feature zero nonwhite acting nominees. Celebrities including Tyrese Gibson and 50 Cent have called for him to step aside in protest of the academy’s ongoing diversity problem.

Others see an opportunity for the comedian -- who in 2014 wrote a scathing essay about race and the entertainment industry for the Hollywood Reporter in which he referred to Los Angeles as a “slave state” -- to make a powerful statement before a massive global audience.

Meredith BlakeRead More


A look at Asian, Latino and indigenous nominees and winners

It is not only African Americans who have been underrepresented in the Oscar field over the decades. So have other people of color including Latinos, Asians and indigenous actors.

Movies and the movie business are reflective of the eras they were made in. The racism that was so prevalent during much of the 20th century in America could be seen in the awards selections.

Susan KingRead More


New York Post got jokes ...


Critics point to studios for lack of diversity among Academy Award nominees

The absence of nonwhite acting Oscar nominees for a second straight year has led many to criticize the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its lack of diversity. But a growing chorus of movie business figures are instead pointing the finger at another culprit: the executive ranks of the major film studios.

Spike Lee, the provocateur director-producer, weighed in on Wednesday. In an interview on “Good Morning America,” he said the real problem is with the people who decide which movies get made and released.

Read MoreRyan Faughnder