Quincy Jones may pull out of presenting at Oscars

Record producer and legendary musician Quincy Jones. Photo / Getty Images
Record producer and legendary musician Quincy Jones. Photo / Getty Images

Legendary musician Quincy Jones will step down from presenting at the 2016 Academy Awards if he is banned from mentioning the lack of diversity.

The Oscar-nominated songwriter/producer claims he was asked to present with Pharrell Williams and rapper Common at the ceremony on February 28.

He now plans to withdraw if he cannot address the absence of black acting nominees onstage.

He said, during a TV industry question-and-answer session in Miami, he would be returning to Los Angeles to speak with the awards show bosses, and he plans to say to them, "If you don't let me speak on the lack of diversity, I'm not going to do it."

He adds, "I've been involved in the Academy longer than I care to remember... I was the first black board member, the first black conductor - I hate 'first black' because that means 'only'. I want the young African-American kids to know that the door is open."

Jones plans to confront his fellow members on the board of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences about the lack of diversity among this year's Oscar nominations.

"I'm going to ask the board to let me speak for five minutes on this lack of diversity," he said at the National Association of Television Program Executives conference on Wednesday.

"We've got to find a solution. It's been going on for too long."

Jones was the first African-American to be appointed to the AMPAS board.

The Academy has been subject to criticism and calls for a boycott over its all-white line-up of acting nominees for the past two years.

Even the Academy's president Cheryl Boone Isaacs is promising "big changes" to bring about "much-needed diversity".

Jones said it was "frightening to see [nominees] 90 per cent white and 80 per cent white males".

"It's ridiculous. It's wrong," he added.

Despite his strong stance, Jones didn't state plans to boycott the ceremony, which some prominent stars have done.

Spike Lee, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Snoop Dogg announced they would not be attending or watching the show in support of the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, but Jones believes there are other ways to affect change.

"There are two ways to do it," he says. "You can boycott or you can fix it. It's frightening to see 90 per cent white and 80 per cent white male."

The boss of the organisation behind the awards, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, has promised a review of membership to make sure the Oscars voters are more representative of society.

Ceremony host Chris Rock has also faced mounting pressures to drop out over the controversy, with singer/rapper Tyrese Gibson writing on Instagram, "Chris Rock do the right thing make a statement - were (sic) relying on you to DO the right thing..... There is NO JOKE YOU CAN CRACK TO EVER CHANGE THE WAY WE ALL FEEL", while 50 Cent adds, "Chris please do not do the oscars awards. You mean a lot man, don't do it. Please."

Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, up for best actor in a supporting role for his part in Spotlight, says he was also tempted to boycott the ceremony - but has opted not to.

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Brian d'Arcy star in the movie Spotlight.
Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Brian d'Arcy star in the movie Spotlight.

Speaking at the UK premiere of the film in London, the 48-year-old said that while there are more black actors than when he started out, Hollywood still has a "long way to go".

"I think it's terrible. And I have a lot of sympathy for it [the boycott] and I completely understand why people are protesting. They have to," he told the Press Association.

"I would in essence probably really seriously think about joining them.

"Except I'm in a movie that's representing a whole other group of disenfranchised people who have no voice in the world and this movie means so much to them."

Spotlight chronicles an investigation by journalists at the Boston Globe newspaper who uncovered widespread sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.

Clueless star Stacey Dash, meanwhile, insists African-Americans have to stop complaining about the "white-out" at the Oscars, while promoting their own exclusive TV channels and awards.

"We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration," the actress-turned-Fox News presenter said on US TV show Fox & Friends.

"If we don't want segregation then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the (NAACP) Image Awards, where you are only awarded if you are black."

The show will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.


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