Jesse Jackson protests Oscar's big night
March 24, 1996
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Ron Tank
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Jesse Jackson isn't running for president but his community meeting in Los Angeles sounded like a campaign nevertheless. (51K AIFF sound or 51K WAV sound)
Jackson met with several advocacy groups and community leaders Saturday to discuss a protest of this year's Academy Awards because of a nearly total absence of black nominees.
Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, a political group, is challenging Hollywood to hire more minorities, claiming that the one African-American Oscar nominee out of 166 proves the movie industry is biased.
Jackson said there would be no protests at the awards ceremony but demonstrations were planned in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Miami outside ABC affiliate television stations broadcasting the show.
The impetus for the Oscar protest, Jackson admits, was a March cover story in People Magazine about racism in Hollywood.
"Actually the Rainbow formed a commission on fairness in media several years ago, " Jackson said. "It was very difficult to get our position heard until People Magazine said that the racism in Hollywood is a national disgrace." (145K AIFF sound or 145K WAV sound)
Just days after the magazine article, Jackson met with the labor unions representing writers, directors and actors and unveiled a tentative plan of cooperation called the Rainbow Covenant.
"We have been working for the most part separately and the idea of coming together collectively is essentially a newer and more powerful idea than we've ever put forth," said Brad Radnitz, president of the Writer's Guild.
However, some representatives of the studios were not as receptive to Jackson's cause.
"He's using the nominations of the Academy Awards this year as a platform and had he used prior years he wouldn't have the same platform," said Nick Counter, the president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. (119K AIFF sound or 119K WAV sound)
Jackson's visit with Academy president Arthur Hiller, whose organization runs the Oscars, yielded an agreement of sorts.
"We really don't have sufficient awareness of what each is saying and we've decided we'll keep talking, we'll sit and learn," Hiller said.
They also agreed that rainbow-colored ribbons, the first of which were being made Saturday morning, could be worn by attendees as a symbol of solidarity.
With this year's show being produced by Quincy Jones and hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, who are both black, official greeter Oprah Winfrey says she is furious with Jackson and calls this year's broadcast "the most multi-ethnic Oscar show anybody's ever seen."
Second-time host Goldberg supports Jackson's cause but not the means.
"It is not the Oscar ceremony where the heat should go. I'm glad he's on board that's all I can say, I'm pleased he's finally arrived," Goldberg said.
While Jackson says he doesn't want his protest to overshadow Hollywood's biggest event, it has already attracted lots of attention.
The Oscar may be gold, but the official colors this year could be those of the rainbow.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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