February 28, 2019 

LAWT News Service 

City News Service 


Octavia Spencer was an executive producer on “Green Book,” which won the 2019 Oscar for Best Picture.


Spencer acted as executive producer on the film, which also received 2019 Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay and 2019 Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay.


The movie is a story of race relations told through the relationship built between Don Shirley, a masterful black classical jazz pianist, and his driver, a bouncer named Tony Vallelonga, on a concert tour through the Deep South in 1962.


After winning the coveted best picture Oscar, the producers of “Green Book” were still forced to defend their film backstage the night of the Oscars.


Nick Vallelonga, Tony’s son, co-wrote the original screenplay along with Brian Currie and director Peter Farrelly, picking up a second Oscar for the team.


Vallelonga took responsibility for not speaking to the family.


“That falls on me, but Don Shirley himself told me not to speak to anyone,'” he told reporters. “I wish I could have reached out to Don Shirley’s family.”


Vallelonga said he was unaware of the family until the time came to seek music rights from the estate, but he felt compelled nonetheless to honor his commitment to Shirley to only tell the story as the musician told it to him. “They call that a stand-up guy.”


He always knew it was a compelling tale.


“Don Shirley and my father had an amazing story together,” Vallelonga told reporters. “I went to Carnegie Hall, I sat on (Shirley’s) throne” and spent hours and hours talking to Shirley.


“I can’t believe that guy, the genius that he was, the unbelievable musician that he was ... the things that he had to go through ... I couldn’t believe it myself.”


In the end, “it’s a small story about two people ... it's about their relationship and how they changed each other ... I think we brought great honor to Dr. Shirley,” Vallelonga said.


Producer Jim Burke agreed.


“We’re all really proud of this film,” Burke said, saying he spoke for all 500-plus people working in the cast and crew.


Farrelly and Currie were also producers, along with Charles B. Wessler.


Farrelly said they didn't expect the win.


“I kind of thought about everything but winning this thing and it worked,” he joked.


For the director, the message of the film is “talk to each other and you’ll find we all have a lot in common ... I know that sounds corny and sort of Pollyannish, but it’s the truth. The only way to solve problems is to talk.”

Category: Arts & Culture