BY SANDY COHEN | ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES — Quincy Jones wants to talk about diversity, just not on the Oscar show.
The 82-year-old Oscar, Grammy and Emmy winner says he agreed to appear on Sunday’s Academy Awards on the condition that he can address the film academy’s Board of Governors to discuss inclusivity and the future of film.
Some news reports suggested he intended to deliver a diversity message to the global Oscar audience.
The composer and producer, who earned seven Oscar nods before receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1994 and producing the Academy Awards in 1996, said Saturday that he met with academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and plans to speak to the organization’s other officials in the coming weeks.
“I hope I can continue to inspire people to do something about this stuff,” Jones said in an interview with The Associated Press after rehearsing for his Oscar appearance. “I’m not a politician. I just know that it’s very emotional. It’s about opening the doors.”
He did not offer any specific plans for how to solve the entertainment industry’s race and gender problems. But he encourages an open mind and an eye for excellence.
His first film, 1985’s “The Color Purple,” had an all-black cast and earned 11 Oscar nominations, including best picture, screenplay, cinematography, actress for Whoopi Goldberg and supporting actress for Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery.
“My record with the academy is like nobody else’s,” said Jones, an academy member for 50 years and the first African American to produce the Oscar telecast (in 1996).
He blames “the philosophy of the nation” for its marginalization of people of color in entertainment. Money can be the bridge, he said. When profits start rolling in, “there ain’t no color left,” Jones said.
“The money eliminates the concept of color,” he said.
Diversity issues go far beyond the film academy, and Jones wants the United States to appoint a minister of culture who can foster appreciation for the many contributions made by its diverse citizenry.
“I don’t want the job,” Jones said. “I got 117 projects already.”
Among them are a film about the origins of jazz and blues, as well as his upcoming plans to address the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
But first up is Sunday’s Academy Awards, and Jones promises to follow the script.