August 16, 2013 |
The year's first serving of Oscar bait has arrived on a silver platter in the form of "Lee Daniels' The Butler," a star-studded historical drama starring Forest Whitaker as an African American butler working at the White House through multiple administrations, set against the arc of the civil rights movement. Thus far the film has earned positive, if somewhat ambivalent reviews, with critics praising the strong ensemble cast for helping to ground writer-director Daniels' melodramatic flair.
July 3, 2013 |
Harvey Weinstein loves a good fight -- especially if it helps him promote one of his company's movies. So when the MPAA's title registration bureau decided this week that the Weinstein Co. couldn't use the title "The Butler" on Lee Daniels' upcoming biopic about the life of a longtime White House butler because it's also the title of a 1916 short film owned by Warner Bros., Weinstein immediately went into outrage mode. Today, he announced the hiring of prominent attorney David Boies, who represented Al Gore in the 2000 recount fight and gay marriage advocates in the recent Supreme Court challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban, as well as filmmaker Michael Moore when he ran afoul of the Treasury Department after visiting Cuba for the Weinstein Co. film "Sicko.
August 13, 2013 |
Oprah Winfrey has said that taking a role in "The Butler" -- her first big-screen turn in 15 years -- was a scary prospect. But after being engulfed by a media mob at her new movie's premiere in Los Angeles on Monday night, Winfrey might be thinking that acting is the least frightening part of her return to film. Following an emotional screening at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live, moviegoers headed across the street to an after-party at WP24 -- Wolfgang Puck's trendy restaurant with a sweeping view of the downtown skyline.
December 19, 2013 |
"Lee Daniels' The Butler” tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a White House butler who serves eight presidents and is caught up in the tumultuous civil rights movement. But, for Daniels, the heart of the story lies with the transcendent love between a father and son. That, and a moment shared with his mother, attracted Daniels to the project. As a youth, Daniels teased his mother about her missing tooth. The reason behind it remained hidden until one year she told him that she lost it while she was protesting voter injustice.
November 18, 2013 |
It had already been a strong year for films with predominantly black casts - the kind of year that makes bloggers pull out their laptops and write posts about a “new moment.” "Fruitvale Station" was the sensation of the Sundance Film Festival. "The Butler" was a major commercial crossover. "12 Years A Slave” is the art-house breakout of the fall and an early Oscar favorite. A big holiday hit was hardly needed to make people realize that long-held tropes about movies with black casts - or, for that matter, aimed at black audiences - were bunk.
August 26, 2013 |
For the Oxford-born, Nigeria-raised David Oyelowo, the last few years have been a profoundly deep - and sometimes harrowing - dive into the African American experience. The actor has played a Tuskegee airman in George Lucas' "Red Tails," a U.S. cavalryman in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," and a Southern preacher in "The Help. " But things really got intense when he had to endure abuse at a segregated lunch counter and mobs of Klansmen for his part as a civil rights activist in "Lee Daniels' The Butler.
December 6, 2013 |
Nelson Mandela was revered around the world, but the South African leader also enjoyed a particularly passionate following in Hollywood. The movie business' interest in Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, yielded a number of documentaries and, just this year, two feature films about Mandela and his wife: "Winnie Mandela," which opened Sept. 6, and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," which debuted Nov. 29. Following Mandela's death, several filmmakers, executives and actors reflected on Mandela's life and work, and shared their memories about his influence and having met him. FULL COVERAGE: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
November 19, 2013 |
When Malcolm Lee's reunion comedy "The Best Man Holiday," which features a primarily African American cast, grossed an impressive $30.6 million at the box office this weekend, some in Hollywood were quick to say the movie "overperformed" - prompting others, just as quickly, to question that assumption. "So are we calling 'The Best Man Holiday' yet another overperforming black film or are we ready to admit that the model is wrong?" tweeted Franklin Leonard, founder of the Black List of most promising unproduced screenplays and an outspoken voice on race and Hollywood.
August 10, 2013 |
NEW YORK - Forest Whitaker tends to talk about his work with a mystical flourish. Movie roles, he says, have helped him achieve transcendence, learn the value of quiet and appreciate fear. Yet the star of Lee Daniels' "The Butler" is surprisingly direct about how he squandered an opportunity after his Oscar turn as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 2006's "The Last King of Scotland. " "I thought I found a new way to work after that movie. I could be this intense person, someone who vibrated differently, and it would make me a better actor," he said.