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Quincy Jones Threatens to Pull Out From Presenting With Common and Pharrell at 2016 Oscars

Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocals Competition 2015
Rachel Murray, Getty Images

As performers and filmmakers like Will Smith and Spike Lee come out against the 2016 Oscar nominations by announcing their plans to boycott the ceremony over lack of minority recognition, music producer and industry legend Quincy Jones has come up with an alternative measure to demonstrate his disapproval. On Wednesday afternoon, during a National Association of Television Program Executives engagement honoring him, Jones said that he has been asked to present at the Oscars but has given the Academy a stipulation to guarantee his presence.

“They called me to go present with Pharrell and Common,” Jones said before being honored. “When I’m back [in Los Angeles], I’m going to ask [them] to let me speak for five minutes on the lack of diversity. If not, I’m not going to [present].”

Jones, 82, has been nominated for seven Oscars throughout his career, but has yet to take home film’s most prestigious award. Common on the other hand, won the award for Best Original Song at last year’s ceremony along with John Legend for “Glory” from Selma. Pharrell lost in the same category in 2013 for his song “Happy” from Despicable Me 2.

Jones commented further on his history with the Academy saying, “I’ve been involved with the Academy longer than I care to remember. I was the first black board member. I hate ‘first black,’ because that means only.” The Associated Press also reports that Jones declined to comment on the celebrities who have already announced their boycott of the 2016 awards, saying instead, “You can boycott or you can fix it. It’s frightening to see 90 percent white and 80 percent white male. It’s ridiculous. It’s wrong.”

While there have been some such as John Singleton and Janet Hubert who have swung the other way on the matter, taking less issue with the all-white performance nominations than others, it’s clear that Jones is intending to use his influence to make a statement. The 2016 Oscars will air Feb. 28 with host Chris Rock, though some, like 50 Cent, have called for Rock to step down in protest.

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