Hundreds turn out for Spike Lee book signing

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By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

CULVER CITY — More than 400 fans lined up outside Malik Books at the Westfield shopping mall Dec. 18 to purchase filmmaker Spike Lee’s recently released book chronicling his films, life and career, titled “Spike.”

The Academy Award-winning Lee surveyed the huge crowd and heartily greeted fans of all ages.

“Thank you for coming,” the iconic filmmaker said, smiling widely.

The 350-page book, which touts a handsome fluorescent pink cover embossed with the gold letters “Spike,” was published by Chronicle Chroma and quickly sold out during the signing. Fans traveled from as far away as San Francisco to get their books personally signed and to meet the iconic filmmaker, who has been making provocative films for decades.

“I came all the way from Tujunga to purchase the book,” said Billie Greenfield, who leaned over the book signing table and posed with Lee while holding her 3-month-old baby.

As for the book’s bright pink cover, Gloria Fowler, co-publisher of Chronicle Chroma said, “Fuschia pink was Spike’s mother’s favorite color. And if you recall, Spike wore a fuschia-colored suit at the Cannes Film Festival, which was in honor of her.”

Fowler added that Lee’s fans included former President Barack Obama.

“Barack and Michelle Obama went to a screening of “Do the Right Thing” on their first date,” she said.

It’s a littleknown fact that Lee’s grandmother, art teacher Zimmie Reatha Shelton, saved her Social Security checks for years to fund her grandchildren’s education.

The funds helped to put Lee through Morehouse College and New York University film school and was also the seed money for Lee to make his first film, “She’s Gotta Have It,” which debuted 1986.

In 1989, Lee wrote and directed “Do the Right Thing,” which focused on a Brooklyn neighborhood’s simmering racial tension on a hot summer day. Some of the other films Lee has directed included “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever,” “Malcolm X,” “Crooklyn,” “Clockers,” “25th Hour,” “Inside Man,” “Chi-Raq,” and “BlacKkKlansman,” for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and “Da 5 Bloods.”

Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X,” “4 Little Girls” and “She’s Gotta Have It” have all been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

The book “Spike” reveals an inside look at his work and his creative process and Lee’s own commentary on all of his movies, features, documentaries, television shows, short films, commercials (Air Jordan) and music videos featuring Prince and Michael Jackson.

Lee is known for continually exploring race relations, colorism in the Black community, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues.

The numerous accolades for his work include an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, two Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and the Cannes Grand Prix. He also has received an Academy Honorary Award, an Honorary BAFTA Award, an Honorary César, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.

His films have been consistently chronicled over the decades by Lee’s brother, on set photographer David Lee, and the book is packed with film stills and never-before-seen photographs as well as extensive quotes and captions by Lee. Reflecting on his lengthy career, Lee commented; “As I head full steam ahead into my fifth decade as a filmmaker I was elated when Steve Crist and Chronicle Chroma approached me about doing a visual book of all my joints.

“We would revisit all da werk (sic) I’ve put in to build my body of work. Film Is a visual art form and that sense of my storytelling has been somewhat overlooked. Why now, after all these years? Folks be forgetting.”

“Spike Lee has graciously opened his archives and allowed us to create this very special book together,” said Chronicle Chroma publisher Steve Crist, who was busy opening the pages of the book so Lee could add his signature. “It’s an honor to collaborate with Spike on this definitive visual survey of his amazing film career to date.”

Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at metropressnews@gmail.com.

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