While Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" was more or less pilloried after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, and isn't going to be in the Oscar race, it looks like his next effort could find him once again as an awards season player.
The Weinstein Company have picked up the U.S. rights to his star-studded, historical drama "The Butler." Forest Whitaker is in the lead playing Eugene Allen, the late White House butler who served eight presidents during his tenure from 1952 to 1986. To go with the announcement, we have a new set pic of the actor in costume, which is leagues better than that silhouette thing that dropped in August. No release date yet, of course, but will Daniels get a shot at redemption at Cannes next year? Full press release below.
New York, NY – September 24, 2012 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that they have acquired U.S. rights from Butler Films to distribute THE BUTLER, directed by Academy Award nominated Lee Daniels (PRECIOUS). A Laura Ziskin Production, THE BUTLER is produced by Pamela Oas Williams, the late Laura Ziskin, Lee Daniels, Buddy Patrick and Cassian Elwes. Executive Producers include Hilary Shor and Adam Merims. It is co-produced by David Jacobson. The announcement was made today by TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and COO David Glasser.
Comprising this award-winning cast are: Forest Whitaker (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND), Oprah Winfrey (THE COLOR PURPLE), Mariah Carey (PRECIOUS), John Cusack (THE PAPERBOY), Jane Fonda (ON GOLDEN POND), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (JERRY MAGUIRE), Terrence Howard (HUSTLE & FLOW), Minka Kelly (THE ROOMMATE), Lenny Kravitz (PRECIOUS), Melissa Leo (THE FIGHTER), James Marsden (X-MEN), David Oyelowo (THE PAPERBOY), Alex Pettyfer (MAGIC MIKE), Vanessa Redgrave (CORIOLANUS), Alan Rickman (CBGB), Liev Schreiber (X-MEN), and Robin Williams (GOOD WILL HUNTING). THE BUTLER, based on the screenplay by Danny Strong & Lee Daniels, is inspired by Wil Haygood’s Washington Post article about an African-American man who served as a butler (Whitaker) to eight Presidents in the White House for over thirty years. From this unique vantage point, THE BUTLER traces the dramatic changes that swept American society, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life andfamily.
“What moves me most about this man is his quiet nature, grace and unmatched perspective that comes from being in one place – a very powerful one – during what was arguably the period in American history that saw the most change,” said Daniels, whose most recent film, THE PAPERBOY, premiered at the 2012 Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals, and will also be featured in this fall's New York Film Festival.
Said Weinstein, “Lee tells stories in a way no one else does. What struck me most about this story is the perspective it comes from, which in this case is the butler- a man who was a fly on the wall for decades in the world’s most powerful home. It takes an unbelievable cast like the one that’s in place to do this story justice, and we are proud to be given the chance to share this story with the world.”
Added Williams, “This has been a passion project for all involved and we are thrilled to be able to see Laura Ziskin’s vision for this film realized and know it will be a lasting tribute to her incredible career.”
TWC and Butler Films made the deal based on the screenplay by Strong & Daniels. The deal was negotiated by TWC’s Glasser and President, Business and Legal Affairs Andrew Kramer, and by Schuyler Moore of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Cassian Elwes on behalf of Evolution Independent, and CAA on behalf of Butler Films.
The film is currently in production in New Orleans.