Wendell Pierce of "The Wire," "Treme," and "Ray Donovan" turned up on "The Brian Lehrer Show" Friday to address the topic of the moment -- the Oscar membership's neglect to nominate a single black actor in any of the acting categories for the second straight year in a row.
Pierce did not, as the saying goes, mince or parse his words:
He spoke, according to transcripts provided by the show, "of the most insidious of racism [in Hollywood]. This feigned ignorance of ‘where can I find talented black directors?’ ‘I don’t know where to find the material.’ ‘I haven’t seen any good scripts from a woman.’ ‘I don’t know where to find those stories.’
"And I find that even more insulting and racist because all you have to do is look at the platforms that people have created in lieu of being able to get into the studio door – The Pan African Film Festival, African-American Film Festival in Miami, the Los Angeles International Women’s Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival. In San Francisco, we actually see a lot of the Asian films. The Los Angeles Latino Film Festival. These platforms exist because we can’t get into others.”
He added, "While I appreciate the media reaching out to artists of color, like myself, the real interviews [should be with] the Academy members. I know for a fact one producer anonymously said most of the people he knows didn’t see “Straight Outta Compton”… In private circles and in private conversations: ‘That’s something that doesn’t interest me. I don’t care.’ So our work isn’t valued.”
Meanwhile as an aside, Pierce starred in six seasons of "The Wire" from 2002 to 2008. "The Wire" is by critical consensus one of the two or three best dramas in American television history. "The Wire" also comprised a predominantly black cast -- long the basis of speculation among professional critics for its persistent neglect by members of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, who are mostly white.
Facts here speak louder, I think,than words:
From 1999 to 2007, "The Sopranos" -- of course one of TV's other great dramas -- received a total of 111 Emmy nominations and a total of 21 wins.
From 2002 to 2008, "The Wire" received a total of two Emmy nominations and had two wins, both for writing.
Meanwhile, Pierce added that Chris Rock should not quit as Oscars host: "I’ve never been invited to the Oscars. I’m not a member of the Academy. They’ve been boycotting me. I actually recommend people watch the Oscars this year because I think Chris Rock will take advantage of the opportunity he has as host to bring this issue even more to the forefront. He speaks truth to power all the time.”