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Quincy Jones and former Academy chief Cheryl Boone Isaacs are working on a documentary about the history of African Americans in Hollywood.
The legendary producer made the announcement at the Ischia Film and Music Festival off the coast of Naples, where he received a lifetime achievement award.
“We’re in the process of starting to do a documentary now called American Film: The Black Experience. [Boone Isaacs] invited me to be co-producer with her,” Jones said at the festival, at which Boone Isaacs is chairwoman. “I’m very excited about that,” he added.
Speaking at the festival, Boone Isaacs said she hoped American Film will be a comprehensive documentary about the untold story of African Americans in Hollywood. "I think what is important is the backstory of us in the entertainment business, whether it’s film, music or television,” she said.
She added that she wanted “to get the story out of the contributions that have been made by so many, not just the celebrities, which even that backstory has not been told enough; and the relationship among folks and growing and working together in order to improve.”
Boone Isaacs provided the example of sound designer Willie D. Burton, who is tied with Jones as the second most Oscar-nominated African American, with seven nominations, as the perfect kind of story they would like to tell.
“There are so many of us that people don’t know about, which is what we are going to bring forth and tell the world,” she said.
Jones was warmly welcomed on the small Italian island with a photography exhibition celebrating his six-decades-long career in the entertainment industry.
In a brief Q&A, the producer shared some vivid memories, such as the time he used to "hang out" with former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in Los Angeles.
He also reminisced about his life, remarking that the most instrumental encounter of his life was meeting Ray Charles when he was 14. “He had his own apartment. I’m still living at home with my precious type step-mother,” said Jones. “He had two girlfriends. He had a record player. He had two suits, two pairs of shoes. Man, please. Prego!"
Jones also spoke about the Rat Pack and showed off a pinky ring gifted to him by Frank Sinatra himself. “Between Ray Charles and Frank, I must have drunk enough alcohol for 40,000 guys,” Jones joked.
“This guy would drink seven double Jack Daniels an hour and smoke four packs of cigarettes a day,” he said of Sinatra.
Ischia Global Film and Music Fest runs through July 22.