Jamie Foxx has something to say to Spike Lee, who recently decried African American TV series as ”minstrel shows”: Step off. Lee’s upcoming movie ”Bamboozled” follows a black TV writer who creates a ratings sensation with the ”ManTan Minstrel Show,” a modern incarnation of the early 20th century performances featuring white comedians in blackface. The opinionated writer director defended his film’s story line with the following claim: ”Today there are some [television] shows that could be considered minstrel shows except that the actors aren’t performing in blackface.”
At least one black TV star thinks the provoc auteur should keep his inflammatory comments to himself. An ”In Living Color” alum, Foxx, who produced his own sitcom ”The Jamie Foxx Show” for five years, says Lee’s ”better off” sticking to directing instead of insulting African American comics. ”With the most respect I can give him, I think he needs to back off a little bit,” Foxx tells EW.com. ”He ‘s not a comedian, and he doesn’t know what we do.”
Currently creating a new variety show called ”These Nuts” for the WB’s midseason schedule, Foxx says he and his fellow African American TV players are far from Step-n-Fetch-its. ”We’re not minstrels. We’re very smart,” he says. ”I have a black show, 98 percent of my employees are black. When I worked with Keenen Ivory Wayans, his show was filled with minorities. We’re creating the shows.”
This isn’t the first time Lee (who did not return EW.com’s calls) has publicly denounced the portrayal of African Americans on television. When the claymation sitcom ”The PJs” debuted in January 1999, Lee criticized executive producer Eddie Murphy: ”I kind of scratch my head why Eddie Murphy’s doing this, because it shows no love for black people,” he said at the time.
And even his most recent comments can be traced back to five years ago when he told the New York Times: ”A lot of the black programs on television are minstrel shows, and they are written by black writers.” Answers Foxx: ”We do comedy, and if Spike doesn’t like it, that’s fine…. I think it’s getting to the point where nobody cares, because he talks about it so much that now he’s just become the angry guy, the angry black man. It’s sad, because I think he’s very intelligent and a very good director.” And that’s no joke.