(Photo: Darnell Williams/BET)
Call it divine intervention. While appearing on The Mo'Nique Show earlier this week, Tyler Perry received an intriguing proposition from The Queen of Late Night. During an in-depth and intimate conversation with the star and director of Madea's Big Happy Family—and the founder of Atlanta's Tyler Perry Studios—Mo'Nique asked Perry about the criticism that he's received from fellow black filmmaker Spike Lee.
Comparing their conflict to Langston Hughes's criticism of Zora Neale Husrton, Perry gave Lee his due respect: "He's a brilliant film maker. There's a lot of things that he could share with me, but for some reason we don't do that." Perry went on to say that he wished Lee had spoken to him directly rather than to the press. "Instead of taking shots and tearing each other down, why don't you give me a hand, brother?" Perry said. "Tell me what I need to know. And maybe I can show you some things too."
Then Mo'Nique upped the ante, inviting Perry and Lee to come settle their differences right there on her show.
"Would you be willing," she asked Tyler Perry, "if brother Spike Lee is willing, to come on The Mo'Nique Show and y'all have this conversation face to face?"
"Let's make it happen," Perry replied.
Mo'Nique then turned to speak into the camera: "Brother Spike, you have an open invitation to come and sit with brother Tyler Perry. So that way y'all can show the world at large how we can come together. Because we still are in the land of divide and conquer."
A public rift first appeared between the two iconic directors after Spike Lee was interviewed at a Black Enterprise magazine conference in 2009. When asked about the state of black cinema, the director of Do The Right Thing, School Daze, and Malcolm X seemed to disparage Perry's films, using words like "buffoonery." Perry later defended his work during a 60 Minutes interview, saying that he found Lee's remarks "insulting." Overheated media scrutiny fed into a so-called "feud" between the two filmmakers. But Mo'Nique made it clear she was more interested in healing the rift in a public forum.
The Academy-Award-winning actress, comedian, and talk-show host's offer to broker these black cinema peace talks set off a lively discussion on the internet. Fans of both directors debated the possibility of their reconcilation, and even speculated about a collaborative project between Perry and Lee.
"You both are geniuses at what you do," Mo'Nique said. "Imagine if Tyler Perry and Spike Lee got together, how powerful that would be."
Talk about a major motion picture!
Check out Tyler Perry and Mo'Nique's no-holds-barred discussion:.