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Chuck Jones

Animation Pioneer

Chuck Jones: Yeah, or that you might make a picture and you've lost the whole skill. Arthur Rubinstein said that when he walked out on a stage and saw 2,000 people who had paid money to see him perform, he said, "I could not give them less than the best that I have." And that's what I feel. You have no right to diminish an audience's expectations. You have to give them everything that you have. And with children, with anything that's supposedly being done for children, the requirement becomes much more stringent. You've got to do the best you can. You have no right to pull back. You have no right to "write for children." You do the best thing that you can do. And the audiences -- for children -- all the more so, because you're building a child's expectation of what is good and what is bad. And all this stuff -- the word "kidvid," which is used so freely, is one of the ugliest words in the English language. It means you're writing down to children. How are you going to build children up by writing down to them?
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Chuck Jones

Animation Pioneer

There is a one proof always, as to what makes a great children's book, or a great children's film, and that is this: If it can be read or viewed with pleasure by adults, then it has the chance to be a great children's film, or a great children's book. If it doesn't, it has no chance. Every film should be pursued in that way. I've always felt that the very best I can do is the very least I can do. I don't think about the audience, I think about me. And I think about how grateful I am that I blundered into that group of whimsical, wild, otterish type people that are in there, all of them nutty and all of them intense. Because don't forget, we talked a lot about how free times were then, but every one of us had to turn out 10 pictures a year, in order to get the 30 that Warner Brothers needed. And so, it was frivolous, to be sure, plenty of frivolity and plenty of laughter, but for every bit of laughter there has to be 90 percent of work.
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James Earl Jones

National Medal of Arts

Before my grandpa built his own church, we went to the neighboring town, and it was a white community. You know, up north, mostly middle European people and Indians, Chippewa Indians. We were welcome to that church, but once we got in, they didn't know what to do with us. They didn't know what to sing, for instance, so they sang "Ol' Black Joe." I mean, it's kind of a hymn-like song I guess, it's a Stephen Foster. Now my grandmother was immediately incensed. My grandfather said, "You know, maybe they don't know what to do with us. Maybe they didn't mean any harm at all. Consider that." So it was then when I began to say, "Well maybe my grandmother isn't always right, and maybe I should not be a rabid racist as she is recommending." Defensive racist, you know? And maybe I should take each person as an individual.
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James Earl Jones

National Medal of Arts

I never approached the show business from a sentimental point of view. I never saw it as a romantic and glamorous place. I knew real show business from my father's line. My father who had been an actor since he left the world of boxing. He was a prize fighter when he first -- and a man I never really knew, a man I -- allegedly I was face to face with him once when I was about two, three days old -- and didn't meet again until I was an adult, was not allowed to meet him 'til I was an adult. But, I knew of his career through his mother, and I knew he was not very successful, but I didn't know how good an actor he was. I found out later he was quite a wonderful actor who excelled in the element of simplicity. But because he was one, black, and then blacklisted because of his involvement with labor unions and so on during those years, he just didn't get work. Certainly not in the areas that Red Channels controlled, which was movies and taped television. He got work occasionally in theater, you know. And he told me when I finally met him, he said, "I've not been able to make a living at this, so I want you to know that's a possibility; that you don't enter it for the money. You enter it because you love doing the work."
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James Earl Jones

National Medal of Arts

The idea that you're competing with fellow human beings can get rough. My wife knows actresses who, when they go to auditions, they will deliberately distract all the other actresses. They'll start telling stories. They'll start asking questions deliberately, to throw you off your balance. Well, I don't like to hear about stories like that and I certainly don't like to -- my first time on camera was with a wonderful actress named Diana Sands, and Diana began to try to tell me -- my first time on camera -- she began to try to tell me, "Look, you know, if you want them to use your take, then you do something to distract the other actor's take." I said, "You know, I don't think I want to know that. I don't think I want to be that busy manipulating because I came here to act, you know; and if I use all my energy manipulating, I'm not gonna do my job." And there was something very disturbing about all that, you know. She was a brilliant actress and could do both, could manipulate as well as do her job. But, I didn't think I could do that, you know.
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James Earl Jones

National Medal of Arts

Rilke had said to this young poet, "I sense this is what you're doing, you're writing for the critics. You're writing to please the critics." He says, "That'll never work. Because they're not pleasable. You must write to please yourself. And then they might be pleased, you know. But they're secondary to what you do." And so this all began to fall into place for me and I respect what critics do, but I don't -- their work trails mine. I mean, I've done my work, and I'm gonna keep looking ahead, and not behind at some reflection.
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Quincy Jones

Music Impresario

All my life Count Basie was there. He was like manager, mentor, father, brother, everything. He'd help me get jobs when I had my big band later. And, I remember we played up in New Haven, a job that he didn't want to take, and he said, "Okay, I've got a job for your band. You got it." And so they got the contracts. We were the same agency, Willard Alexander, and we got a third of what he would get naturally. It was a 12 or 1300-seat place and only about 700 people showed up, and I was really disappointed and hurt. I had a big band from New York. Basie showed up, and he said, "Okay, give the man half of the money back." I said, "What do you mean, half of the money back?" He said, "He put your name down front and the people didn't come. He will be important for you in the future and you shouldn't hurt him because the people didn't come. Give him half of his money back." I gave half the money back. He always tried to teach me how to be a human being.
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Quincy Jones

Music Impresario

Quincy Jones: We started that in music very early. We had to play schottisches and boogie-woogie, blues or rhythm and blues or be-bop, pop music, concert music, Sousa, everything. From the beginning, we played it. That's why a lot of the jazz musicians, when I did Michael Jackson, they said, "You sold out." I said, "I've been doing this all my life. What do you mean, sold out?" It's not even a stretch, you know, to go from different kinds of music. And, if you start out like that it's not unusual at all. Everything feels good, whether it's Wynonie Harris, Louis Jordan or Charlie Parker or Bartok, Alban Berg or whatever. Nadia Boulanger used to say, "There's only 12 notes, so listen to what everybody does with those 12 notes." That's all there are really.
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Quincy Jones

Music Impresario

The converse side of what I see in a lot of young musicians who just want to be very famous and very rich, very quick -- was a goal that we didn't understand at all in those days, because our idols were not symbolic of that. It was Charlie Parker and people that almost died in poverty, and drugs, and they didn't have that. They didn't think of opulence or that kind of living, jet planes and limousines, and all those things. Today that's a running thing. It's a huge business now, where very young people make enormous amounts of money, and have to deal with an almost super-human position, trying to absorb that kind of adulation and recognition and fame, and adoration and money. It's a very abnormal situation, and they're trying to make it normal, 'cause it's not normal, so we have a lot of casualties as a result of that.
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