Given his keen sense of race relations breaking down as displayed in Do The Right Thing, and his equally impressive treatment of real-life issues in When The Levees Broke, Spike Lee is unsurprisingly Universal’s choice to combine the two for a new drama.
LA Riots will focus on the events following the Rodney King trial, which saw four white police officers acquitted of beating a black motorist, despite the act caught on tape. April 1992 saw the streets ablaze as rioters clashed with police, left 55 people dead, thousands of injuries and a damage bill nearing $1 billion.
According to producer Brian Grazer, this new script - which is being written by John Ridley - is "the best way to use Spike's power as a filmmaker, to tell an even-handed story that gets beyond the iconic pictures that we all remember. I was most interested in looking at the idea of universal group dynamics that manifest themselves under the highest amount of stress and to get all these points of view as they converge into each other and ignite in flames."
And Lee himself remembers the events well – since he was in Los Angeles at the time. "The day the riot happened was the very first time that Terry Semel and Bob Daly saw Malcolm X, when they were running Warner Bros," Lee told Variety. "All the things Malcolm X was talking about were happening. Assistants were running into the room, passing them notes. 'Do you want us to order a helicopter to come into the studio to get you home?' You could see it in their faces, watching this movie, wondering if LA was burning down, and if the world was coming to an end.
"I have to give credit to Bob and Terry, because I know they wanted to leave but they stayed and saw my first cut, which was about three hours and 45 minutes," Lee said. "I don't know how they got home, whether it was by helicopter or by car, but they ran out of the screening room. It was very scary. I went straight to LAX, and my ass was on the red eye.”
The plan is to have the film to shoot early next year.