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Spike Lee thought the New Orleans Saints had provided him the perfect happy ending

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; HOLLYWOOD -- New Orleans' Phyllis Montana LeBlanc opens Spike Lee's follow-up to his 2006 "When the Levees Broke" with a poem. Dan Steinberg / AP Photo Director Spike Lee speaks about his upcoming documentary "If God Is Willing and Da ...

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Old 08-10-2010, 12:27 PM   #1
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HOLLYWOOD -- New Orleans' Phyllis Montana LeBlanc opens Spike Lee's follow-up to his 2006 "When the Levees Broke" with a poem.

Dan Steinberg / AP Photo
Director Spike Lee speaks about his upcoming documentary "If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise" at the HBO Summer press tour panel in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010.
Written by LeBlanc at Lee's request, the poem is built around the phrase "If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise, " which also serves as the new film's title.
A spoken-word fanfare for what's to follow, the poem is as up-to-the-minute as cable news, incorporating the BP oil disaster in its impassioned, resolute verses.
LeBlanc delivers the poem wearing a New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey jersey.
Meeting with the nation's TV critics here Saturday, Lee was asked about the title of the new film, which debuts in two parts Aug. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m.
"I really got it from my grandmother, " he said. "My grandmother lived to be 100 years old. Her grandmother was a slave, yet she was a college graduate. Spellman class of 1917, I think. She taught art for 50 years and, with her Social Security checks, she saved for her children's children's education. Since I was the oldest, I had first dibs. So my grandmother put me through Morehouse College in Atlanta, also NYU graduate film school. (She also ) financed, gave me money for, "She's Gotta Have It, " all from her Social Security checks."
Lee said he called his grandmother Mama.
"And in her later years, when I would speak to her from Brooklyn, she'd be in Atlanta, I would say, 'Mama, I'll speak to you tomorrow night.' And she'd say, 'Spikey, if God is willing and the creek don't rise.' So this title is a tribute to my grandmother, but also, I think it's apropos for all the things that you will see in this four-hour documentary."
Lee said he thought he'd shot the film's concluding scenes -- sequences shot in Miami and New Orleans during and following the Super Bowl -- very early in the production process.
"We knew the Saints were going to win, " he said. "There's very few times in sports when this happens, but the Saints weren't trying to win a game. They had a cause. And no matter what Peyton Manning was going to do, it was not going to help.
"The Saints were going to win that game. We knew it. The Saints knew it. Coach Payton knew it. And so we thought that we'd film the ending.
"But BP cut some corners, went around safety regulations. The thing blew up, 11 people died, and it changed the whole outlook" of the film.
Now, the Saints' Super Bowl victory and its impact on the city is a key element of its first hour. (Will we ever tire of seeing that interception and runback? No.) Almost the entire concluding hour is dedicated to the BP oil spill and its aftermath.
In between are segments about the overhaul of New Orleans' public housing and public schools, crime, the Make It Right Foundation's work in the Lower 9th Ward and Mississippi Gulf Coast recovery. ("Because they were not given the love they should have had in 'Levees, ' so we deal with Mississippi a lot in this one, too, " Lee said.) The film visits Haiti to draw parallels between earthquake and hurricane recovery.
Production continued as recently as two weeks ago to incorporate the latest developments into the ongoing federal investigations into the New Orleans Police Department.

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