CNN’s Soledad O’Brien to Host
Auburn Hills, Mich., - Spike Lee, one of the most influential figures in contemporary cinema, has been named the Chrysler LLC 2008 Behind the Lens honoree. Lee, a director, producer, screenwriter, author and educator, is to be recognized for his outstanding achievements in film and television at the sixth annual award ceremony. Hosted by CNN's anchor Soledad O’Brien, the private invitation-only event will be held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles on March 26, 2008.
"We are very excited to have Spike Lee as the Behind the Lens Honoree for 2008,” said Frank Fountain, Chrysler Senior Vice President - External Affairs and Public Policy (Auburn Hills). “Spike Lee is synonymous with thoughtful and provocative filmmaking and activism in Hollywood which has inspired a generation of filmmakers, uplifted actors and expanded the field to include many more African Americans in key roles behind the lens. He fully embodies the spirit behind this award and Chrysler is delighted to celebrate his commitment and passion.”
In recognition of Lee’s accomplishments, the Chrysler Foundation will donate $25,000 to Lee’s alma mater, Morehouse College in Atlanta. The donation will benefit the vision of the Morehouse College School of Sports Journalism, a program created to expand the field of sports journalism from the small percentage of African Americans currently working in it today. The program, which began with seed money donated by Lee, launched its first course offerings in January 2007. A graduate of Morehouse, class of 1979, Lee is a third-generation Morehouse graduate and now serves on the school’s Board of Trustees. To date, his efforts have raised more than $1 million to benefit the program.
“It is an honor to receive this award and to be surrounded by so many whom have helped make this recognition possible,” said Lee. “I’m thrilled to join the group of talented artists and professionals who have previously received this award, all of whom are friends, mentors and partners. And I want to thank Chrysler for doing its part with this award to turn the spotlight on the men and women who create and shape the images that influence us every day.”
Lee’s film career began at New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, where he drew critical attention for his master’s thesis, the short film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads. He went on to write, produce, direct and edit his first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It, which earned him the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival, the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award. Since that time, Lee has directed 20 more feature films and feature-length documentaries including Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Inside Man, 4 Little Girls and When the Levees Broke, all under the banner of his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. His prodigious talent includes commercials, directing numerous television spots including an acclaimed series of Nike ads featuring Michael Jordan and dozens of music videos for recording artists as diverse as Miles Davis, Public Enemy, Bruce Hornsby and Prince.
The consummate entrepreneur, Lee founded SpikeDDB in 1997, a minority-owned full-service advertising agency in partnership with DDB Worldwide. SpikeDDB has created multi-level advertising campaigns for Pepsi, Ambi Skincare and Mountain Dew, to name a few. 2008 will mark Lee’s Broadway debut when he directs a new production of “Stalag 17,” the 1951 comedy-drama about American prisoners of war written by two former POWs. Lee’s next feature film, “Miracle at St. Anna,” starring Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso and Omar Benson Miller, based on the bestselling author James McBride’s novel, will be released in theatres Fall 2008.
Lee will be the sixth entertainment trailblazer acknowledged by Chrysler. Previous honorees include pioneers such as producer and composer Quincy Jones (The Color Purple), directors Gordon Parks (Shaft), Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song), John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood), and Hollywood casting veteran and producer Reuben Cannon (Madea’s Family Reunion).
The Behind the Lens Award was established in 2002 by Chrysler to recognize and celebrate the achievements of individuals who work behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. Since its inception, the star-studded awards event has featured approximately 400 invited guests to share in the recognition and the accomplishments of the honoree.
Award recipients are chosen by a selection committee comprised of entertainment industry professionals and Chrysler representatives.
About Spike Lee
Spike Lee is one of most respected and prolific filmmakers of the last 25 years. Since his debut film She’s Gotta Have It earned him the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film Festival, he has been at the forefront of American cinema. An Emmy® winner and two-time Oscar® nominee, Lee received an Honorary Cesar, the national film award of France and has been honored by the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Image Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society and the Satellite Awards, as well as garnering nominations for the top prizes at the Cannes, Venice and Berlin International Film Festivals.
Multi-talented and undaunted, Lee has established himself as one of the most influential filmmakers of his time, directing and producing a series of critically-acclaimed movies including Inside Man, Malcolm X, Clockers, Do the Right Thing and Summer of Sam. He has helped launch the careers of well known actors including Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, Wesley Snipes, Mos Def, Rosie Perez and Giancarlo Esposito.
His achievements in documentary filmmaking have been equally successful, including the Emmy winning When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, an acclaimed HBO mini-series documenting the devastation of the city of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and Oscar nominated 4 Little Girls.
In addition to his achievements in feature films, Lee has produced and directed more than three dozen
music videos for artists as diverse as Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Tracy Chapman, Anita Baker, Public
Enemy, Bruce Hornsby and Michael Jackson. He has also directed commercials for Nike, American Express, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Snapple, Fox Sports, Levi's, Pepsi and more.
He is the author of nine books, including Please, Baby, Please, written with his wife Tonya Lewis Lee.
In 1997, Lee founded SpikeDDB, a minority-owned full-service advertising agency in partnership with DDB Worldwide.
Lee is the artistic director of the NYU Tisch Graduate Program in Film, the school from which he received his MFA in filmmaking.
Furthering his commitment to education, Lee visualized and supports the Morehouse College School of Sports Journalism, a program created to expand the very powerful and lucrative field of sports journalism to the small percentage of African Americans currently working in it today. The program, which began with seed money donated by Lee, launched its first course offerings in January 2007. A graduate of Morehouse, class of 1979, Lee is a 3rd generation Morehouse graduate and now serves on the school’s Board of Trustees. To date, his efforts have raised over $1,000,000 to benefit the program.
2008 will mark Lee’s Broadway debut when he directs a new production of “Stalag 17,” the 1951 comedy-drama about American prisoners of war written by two former P.O.W.s. Lee’s next feature film, “Miracle at St. Anna,” based on the bestselling author James McBride’s novel, will be released in theatres Fall 2008.
Source: Chrysler LLC