Star Wars creator George Lucas said Monday that Hollywood studios refused to back his new film Red Tails - about World War II's Tuskegee Airmen - because the cast was all black.
This was told to a rather stunned Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
For those not familiar, the Tuskegee Airmen were a group of black pilots that fought in WWII segregated from white forces.
“It was designed to be during the war," Lucas said. "It’s very patriotic, very jingoistic, very old-fashioned, corny, just exactly like Flying Leathernecks only this one was held up for release from 1942 when it was shot, and I’ve been trying to get it released ever since.”
Lucas told Stewart he’s been working on the film for 23 years. Although paying for it himself, he went to the studios to create the prints, ads, and be responsible for distribution.
“I showed it to all of them and they said, ‘No. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.'”
When Stewart asked why, Lucas first responded, “Because it’s not green enough. They only release green movies.”
The filmmaker clarified, “It's because it's an all black movie. There's no major white roles in it at all. It’s one of the first all black action pictures ever made.”
Lucas continued, “It’s a reasonably expensive movie. Normally black movies, say Tyler Perry movies or something, you know, they’re very low-budget, and, even they won’t release his movies. It goes to the lower, not major distributors. And they do well, but they do a certain amount of money, and they know what that is, and this costs more than those movies make. And they don’t believe there’s any foreign market for it. That’s 60 percent of their profit.”
Sadder still was how Hollywood balked given the message Lucas was trying to convey.
“I wanted to make it inspirational for teenaged boys. I wanted to show that they have heroes, they’re real American heroes, they’re patriots that helped to make the country what it is today. And it’s not Glory where you have a lot of white officers running these guys into cannon fodder. It’s like a real, they were real heroes.”
And Hollywood said, "No."
Just remember that the next time some movie star or film director calls Republicans or members of the Tea Party racist.
(H/T Huffington Post)