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Trailer For Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ Suggests A Film That’s Anything But A Lee Daniels Project

Trailer For Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' Suggests A Film That's Anything But A Lee Daniels Project

In watching this trailer, I actually found myself missing the Lee Daniels I’ve become accustomed to. If I didn’t know that Daniels directed this, I would’ve been shocked to find out that he did. 

This plays so straight and narrow, and thus drab, with the heavy traditional Hollywood trailer soundtrack music, and scenes oozing with earnestness. 

I don’t know… I’m not motivated to see it based on what I see here.

The stories around the making of the film just may be more interesting than the film itself. For starters, you might recall Harry Lennix, who said he was offered a part in The Butler, after reading the script, called it “N*ggerfied… Historical Porn.

And there was the fuss over a love scene between Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey that is said to have gotten out of hand. Although, it’s a PG13 movie, so it couldn’t have gotten that much out of hand.

Daniels did warn at Cannes last year, when The Paperboy premiered, that:

I’m trying to keep it [The Butler] PG13 which is not easy for me. It’s very un-Precious and un-Paperboy… I can’t go into my bag of tricks on this one […] I felt like I directed the film in handcuffs and a muzzle.”

It sure looks like it to me.

I’d rather have Daniels go back to making his smaller, independent, envelope-pushing movies, instead of Hollywood tripe like this. At least, I find him more interesting as an artist, when he’s working within those limits.

Regardless, I’m curious to see what a handcuffed and muzzled Lee Daniels work might look like, so naturally I will see the film. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. It is supposed to be a film that The Weinstein Company expects to push during awards season this year.

The Butler covers several decades in the life of Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served many presidents, and is loaded with a cast that includes: Forest WhitakerOprah WinfreyDavid Oyelowo, Colman DomingoJohn CusackAlan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Melissa LeoLiev SchreiberJesse Williams, Aml Ameen, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr and many more.

Music for the film is composed by the legendary Quincy Jones.

Laura Ziskin Production, The Butler is produced by Pamela Oas Williams, the late Laura Ziskin, Lee Daniels, and Cassian Elwes. It’s executive produced by Hilary Shor and Adam Merims; and co-produced by David Jacobson.

For our thoughts on the film’s script, and casting, read Vanessa’s script review HERE, and Natasha’s casting close-up of the film HERE.

Watch the trailer below:

This Article is related to: News



The soundtrack isn't composed by quincy jones. It is composed by Rodrigo Leão.


The blubbering regarding the title's clumsiness, along with the story's provenance. This representative, Shelter Daniels, is no drifter to awkward post titles.
Watch Lee Daniels' The Butler online free


I am being overwhelmed with constant racist rants from celebrities about white people, and the aftermath of the george zimmerman trial and now movies — I am tired of it. If the black people don't like the whites then find another place to live. The white people I know have done nothing but support the black people, especially the ones that really are changing themselves and doing good in their communities. Come on people– how about movies where white and black people get along and move forward in our lives, instead of always reliving the past!!!


Not bad, Mr. Daniels. I wasn't a fan of Precious but this may work for me.


lol. while i'm not as despairing as tambay, perhaps that because i'm not as affectionate for the "old" lee daniels as he is. i agree tho' that, based on the trailer, this looks like the same kind of pc-approved, liberal, make-liberal-wht-folks feel better historical "fiction" that hollywood loves to turn out: see "blind side", "the help", "42", and on and on, ad nauseum.
the most eccentric thing about it, for me, is the casting of the presidents: james marsden as jfk, alan rickman as reagan(!), and i'm taking a wild guess that robin williams is supposed to be truman (surely he can't be lbj?!)


You have got to be kidding me. There are millions of stories of amazing African Americans in our history but yet the story we highlight and give credence to is one of a butler? Seriously, let that sink in for a moment… a butler, someone with janitorial and subservient job requirements. Much respect to the man, but in the end he had very, very, very little if any effect on politics, issues, bills etc.

Going to see this film is condoning the white executives decision who green lighted this film in the first place.

Think about this for a second, how many films about White butlers, janitors, maids, drivers, etc. have been made?

Please save your money, don’t go see this film. Instead check out Fruitvale Station.


Ah, yes.
Assimilation has reared its ugly head toward the dear brother Lee Daniels.
Bless the brother.
He's been fighting the good fight, and avoiding it for years, with his provocative fair, but, alas….
In order to succeed in these United States, one must assimilate to some degree or another. The key is to do so on one's own terms.

Who's next?

Spirit Equality

SMH @ "Everything you are and everything you have is because of that butler".

No way I'll ever see this movie.

It's the typical two-dimensional portrayal of history: Kennedy is the "new white boy (who is) smooth" and (seemingly) helps out a Freedom Rider while simultaneously knowing that the FBI is wiretapping every civil rights activist in the country. I'm pretty sure the latter won't get included in this movie, because that would add the layer of complexity that Hollywood is never going to allow to disturb well set narratives like "Northern Democrat = good/Southern racist = bad".


The trailer looks interesting. I want to see this.


It looks ok to me. I'm a good judge of movies by looking at the trailer and this trailer is very good. Of course the makeup on the white folks sucks and the movie does look a little HBO-ey, but I'll go see it just by the sheer number of excellent actors in it. And also because crazy Terrence was feeling up Oprah's big 'ol titties.

Tired of the same

(In my Suge Knight voice) "If you tired of playing butlers, maids, and slaves in every movie that comes out of Hollywood; GET BEHIND MY MOVIE!" Iniquities on Indiegogo, be a part of the movement."


I hope somewhere in this movies the guy comes across as a hero because I see no other reason to make a film like this. Black people are tired of the past being thrown in their faces, we know what our ancestors endured and sacraficed in order for us to be where we are today. So let's get with the program and start making hero films for our brothers and sisters. Will Smith can't be the only black person out there who can slay aliens and save the world from distruction.


Take note black folks. You can make films in Hollywood, as long as it depicts black folks as servants of the benevolent white overlords. That, or despicable criminals only capable of savagery with no redeeming qualities.

Anything positively depicting black people on their own will get bought up and shelved, ignored, or dismissed without much fanfare. You can be mad about it, but that's the game that's being played.

We're in the era of white rule. It sucks for those with aspirations to be kings and queens, but our role this go round is that of the lower class. It'd be best to modify yourselves to be the best servants you can be if you want to etch out a career for yourselves and your family.

This is their time to rule. Everyone has their time. And as long as you understand this, and agree to uphold it, you will be successful.

Black Sun Tzu

Judging from the trailer, Forest Whitaker is heading to another Oscar nomination.


"its not made for a black audience just as the help wasn't either "

If that statement didn't come from my man Darkan, I'd throw caution to the wind. I mean, could someone please tell me what constitutes "a film for black folks"? Seriously, should I breakout the trite phrase "We are not a monolithic group"? Hell, what group of black folks is this not made for?

Come on y'all, do those cautionary words make any sense? How does that work? Lets see, the film has a black director, a black cast and a black story, so what am I missing? Please, don't even try it, please don't tell me it's the boogieman sending subliminal messages of white superiority. And please don't blame it on Oscar? Think about that… how does that work? I get it, if a film is considered Superior to all films in a single years, it wasn't intended for black folk's eyes – huh? Yeeeaaah riiiiiight, get the…

So please, one more time, what constitutes a film "for a black audience?" Hell, I just watched LUV starring Common, Dennis Haysbett and Danny Glover. Is that the right model? I mean, there was black folks, guns, drugs and a corny story, so that probably hit the spot – huh?

Then again, maybe this non-target black audience is wearing dashikis and black leather gloves? Anyway, this notion that a film with a black director, black central character and a black cast, is not suited for a black audience — is arguably the most ridiculous suggestion of the month.


There ain't nothing wrong with movies about Butlers, maids or drivers. But this happy-to-serve-white-folk shit is tired. And it will get all the awards and it will boom at the box office because white people loooooove to see black folk serving them with a smile. Look at that man shaming his black panther son, defending his president that don't give a damn about black progress. It's funny this trailer comes out around the same time the FBI decides to up the ante on the Assata Shakur hunt.


Every time a black director becomes too successful it's always a problem. Crabs in a barrel Whatever.


I find this refreshing compared to the swill of imagery I've been subjected to in Mr. Daniels previous works. The trailer hits all the marks. It is what it is and it looks like a commercially viable film. It's called show "business". Hope it makes a lot of money so hopefully more projects without the name Tyler Perry above the title black folks will get green lit.


Oprah is slapping folks and throwing that hair!


Courtney A.

Actually, I loved the trailer, it mades me want to go and see it. However, he did play it safe, any one's name as a director could have shot it. Very typical HOLLYWOOD.

julius hollingsworth

I like it so far.


Oprah looks glamorous as hell *drops mic*


This trailer is calling me to the theater!


NOOO!! This trailer is awesome. I really want to see this film, I can't wait. As of right now I'm still on Team 12 Years A Slave for the Oscars!


This looks like a hit but Tambay… you're not going to appreciate it.

As I've said many times, a person gets what they're looking for, so based on your predispositions on The Help and Django, here we go again. You didn't have anything good to say about those films before nor after their release, and I don't believe you're a Lee Daniels's fan. I mean, although you said "I'd rather have Daniels go back to making his smaller, independent, envelope-pushing movies, instead of Hollywood tripe like this"… I can't remember you having kind words for Precious, The Paper Boy nor Shadowboxer. Granted, The Paper Boy and Shadowboxer were not the "best" films but they did have some redeeming qualities which you seldom mention.

Now here you are throwing shade on The Butler before the film opens. Yep, you trotted out the big oak trees (THE BIG LUMBER) in your attempt to sway the minds of the unsuspecting, just as you did in your pre-Django and pre-The Help write-ups. In this "set-up" you wasted little time. Three lines in you called this "DRAB". Oh lord, and then you went straight for the juggular… "Harry Lennix, called it N*ggerfied… Historical Porn." Damn-damn-damn, noyoudidn't drop the big RACE CARD? But I understand 'cause you were propping up the readers for the Big Bolo Punch… " The Love Scene Between Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey"!!!

OH LORD, FEET DON'T FAIL ME NOW…. drab niggerfied porn with baby voice and Sophia doing the nasty, suffering succotash, exit stage left. And unfortunately, some readers followed you… right on cue.

So go ahead, step on this film before it comes out and you will get what you're looking for. But wait, I can only assume what that might be but what about the actors? Will your predisposition to hate this film impede your ability to champion their work? There's some big hitters up in there. Will you throw your hands in the air and holler like you just don't care – or…


This looks like one of those film parodies that Tracy Jordan did in 30 Rock. I actually can't.


It'll be interesting to see how this plays. Has lot of established and new actors in the mix. I would prefer to see this than another "Tyler Perry's…"

Vanessa Martinez

I really hope the actual film doesn't have an overpowering soundtrack throughout. Yeah, it definitely looks to be positioned and packaged to be an "epic" Hollywood film as far as the trailer is concerned; I need to see more. LOL @ Kirk below..


Who….who…who……who's gonna luv me?


The Help 2013. Actually, The Help looked better than this when I saw the trailer. This looks like a TV movie. The cinematography, the music, Oprah. I can't!


Mixed feelings at this point, I will reserve judgment until i see more of the film.


Looks like a lifetime movie.


The reason it might be or feel restraint is that please pay attention to who was a key producer on this- Laura Ziskin She is in unfamiliar terrain. And she is use to only Big Budget Hollywood productions. so to feel more comfortable you tighten everything down so you can have more control and understanding. She is a great producer but she is more at home with SPIDER MAN than Black folk in a Historical film. And she more than likely needed to make sure it was shot right to the script. No improvised scenes, no scenes out of the script, and a story board as big a studio apartment that he had to adhere to!!


It's got plenty of names in it that's for sure. Lee Daniels is trying to win an Oscar and I can tell you for sure despite what black people feel this film will make lots of money and recieve a lot of Oscar attention. Frankly and to be honest, its not made for a black audience just as the help wasn't either so whether black people support or bootleg best believe white people will go to theaters in droves to support and watch this film. Can we say media blitz is on the way. Forrest Whitaker and the Weinstiens are having a hell of a year. First Fruitvale station now this. Just you wait and see!

Adam Scott Thompson

"You is kind… you is smart… now go fix me a mint julep."


I'm incapable of paying $$$ to see anything with Terrance Howard in it anyway. Cuba Gooding is nausea inducing too , but at least he's got acting chops. But yes: Bootleg City. I gotta guy uptown :)

Miles Ellison

Maybe there will be an unrated director's cut where Oprah urinates on Terence Howard.


I'll be first in line for the bootleg.

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