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A cinematic return: Spike Lee debuts new boro-based series with gala premiere at Ft. Greene theater

In the spotlight: Spike Lee and Grammy-award-winning rhythm-and-blues artist Maxwell hit the red carpet at the Nov. 11 premiere of Lee’s new Netflix television series “She’s Gotta Have It” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
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It was a bright night for a local film legend!

Stars lit up the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Nov. 11 for the premiere of Spike Lee’s new Netflix television series, “She’s Gotta Have It,” which is based on the director’s beloved Brooklyn-set movie. And though the famous filmmaker no longer lives in his native Fort Greene, he wanted to celebrate his special night at the esteemed local arts hub, his wife said.

“To be able to do it at such an iconic place as BAM was great,” said Tonya Lewis Lee, who is also an executive producer of the series. “It was such a beautiful space to do the premiere with a crowd from Brooklyn.”

The 10-episode show stars actress DeWanda Wise as protagonist Nola Darling — also the titular character of Lee’s 1986 film — and tells the story of a young woman maintaining relationships with three lovers, a plot Lewis Lee said will appeal to many viewers.

“As someone said to me that night, everybody can find a character to identify with in the show,” she said.

The program’s director and stars lined the event’s red carpet, including Lee, Wise and Anthony Ramos — an alum of the Broadway hit “Hamilton” who portrays Mars Blackmon on the new show.

Critics lauded Lee’s original movie as boundary-pushing for its dialogue about black female sexuality, and the new series’s executive producer said she looks forward to the conversations it will spark.

“I can’t wait until it comes out. I can’t wait for people to see it, binge it, talk about it,” Lewis Lee said.

And hosting a homecoming for Lee — who now lives in Manhattan but keeps Fort Greene offices for his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks — was an honor, according to a Brooklyn Academy of Music honcho, who praised the director’s latest work for its creativity and focus on important local issues.

“It was an honor to host the premiere of Spike Lee’s new work at BAM,” said Gina Duncan, the cultural space’s associate vice president of cinema. “Grappling with issues like black female sexuality and gentrification, the show builds on many of the themes presented in Lee’s early work.”

“She’s Gotta Have It” debuts on Netflix on Thanksgiving day.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, November 15, 2017
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