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Tag: Lee Daniels (1-10 of 17)

Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey confirm Mike Epps to star as Richard Pryor in biopic

Lee Daniels has finally found his Richard Pryor—and he made the announcement with a little help from his friend Oprah Winfrey.

On Sunday, Aug. 24, Winfrey posted a picture on her Instagram of herself, Lee Daniels, and Mike Epps after the trio had completed a first read-through of the Richard Pryor movie. Daniels did the same shortly after on his Twitter, confirming Epps’ starring role. READ FULL STORY

Lee Daniels to direct 'Brian Banks Story'

Lee Daniels—whose last film, The Butler, grossed $116.6 million—will next direct a movie about Brian Banks, the promising high school athlete whose football career was derailed by a false accusation of rape that sent him to prison for more than five years. “All I ever wanted was to prove my innocence,” said Banks, in a statement. “Telling my story in the form of a feature film is beyond my wildest dreams. Having Lee Daniels come on board to direct the film is so exciting, and such an honor.”

Currently titled The Brian Banks Story, the film will be produced by Daniels and Amy Baer (Last Vegas). There is no script yet.

Banks was one of California’s top high school players when he was accused of kidnapping and raping a classmate in 2002. Though he denied the charge, his lawyers feared going to trial and suggested pleading no contest. He served more than five years in prison and was registered as a sex offender. In 2011, however, the victim contacted him via Facebook with the intention of renewing their friendship. Banks videotaped their meeting, in which she admitted to fabricating the charges and said that Banks never raped her. With the help of the California Innocence Project, the new evidence cleared Banks of the crime and he ended up earning tryouts with several NFL football teams. He was profiled by 60 Minutes in 2013.

 

Road to Sundance: 'Precious' pushed all the right buttons in 2009

December is the heart of Oscar season, yet by the time we finally see who wins the trophies on March 2, we will have heard the nominees answer the same red-carpet questions and tell the same late-night television anecdotes — about process and weight loss and legacy, etc — that we’ll practically be able to write the winners’ acceptance speeches for them. It’s refreshing, then, that right in the middle of this circus will be the Sundance Film Festival.

Every January, in Park City, Utah, a fresh crop of movies is unveiled at independent film’s grandest showcase. What separates Sundance from other prestigious festivals, say Toronto or Cannes, is that it specializes in that your-life-will-never-be-the-same moment. From the day Steven Soderbergh screened sex, lies and videotape in 1989 to the standing ovation Ryan Coogler received earlier this year for Fruitvale Station, Sundance is the place where dreams come true. To be there when it happens, to see filmmakers and actors engaging with appreciative audiences who are watching their work for the first time, is one of the best things about the business. “I haven’t been in a movie before, so everything is so Entourage,” said Gabourey Sidibe, when Precious premiered at Sundance in 2009. “We’re walking up Main Street and everyone’s like, ‘You were so wonderful.’ ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see your movie.’ Oh my God. That is sooooo Entourage.”

How can you not love that?

And it’s not just the rags-to-riches stories that make Sundance such a special place. When talent comes to Sundance — be they no-names or Oscar-winners — their well-rehearsed pat answers simply haven’t taken shape yet. Sundance is the first time they’re meeting the press for their project and they aren’t always 100 percent prepared — which is a wonderful thing. Stay out of his own way, and a journalist might even enjoy a spontaneous, human conversation with some amazing artist who is just as excited to share what went into the process of creating their art. Sometimes, if the spirit moves them, they might have have an impromptu dance party, like Sidibe and her Precious co-stars did at the EW Studio. READ FULL STORY

Oprah Winfrey talks about 'The Butler,' and acting for the first time in 15 years -- VIDEO

Once Oprah Winfrey decided to act in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, playing the wife of Forest Whitaker’s White House servant, she had one primary concern: she didn’t want to embarrass herself. Though she’d been nominated for an Oscar for her role in 1985′s The Color Purple and voiced characters in animated films, Winfrey hadn’t starred in a movie since Beloved in 1998.

But the story of Cecil Gaines, a man who was born the son of a poor sharecropper but grew up to work in the White House during a time of great social change in this country, was an opportunity that Winfrey couldn’t pass up, even as she was juggling the massive responsibilities of her media empire. Not only is Gaines — who’s based on the real-life White House butler Eugene Allen — an eyewitness to history, but he represents multiple generations of African-Americans who were maids and butlers and ultimately allowed their children to thrive in other professions — children like Winfrey, who comes from a long line of domestics.

In this exclusive video, Winfrey explains her initial reluctance in playing Gloria Gaines and how Lee Daniels ultimately got her to say yes. Whatever Winfrey’s initial reservations were, Whitaker was won over, saying, “People are going to be blown away by her performance.” READ FULL STORY

TWC loses appeal over 'The Butler' title

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An MPAA appeals board confirmed an arbitration ruling prohibiting The Weinstein Company from using the precise title The Butler for its upcoming White House civil-rights drama starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. However, the board did leave wiggle room by allowing the word “butler” in potential alternative titles.

Three weeks ago, Warner Bros. had exercised its rights to protect the title, The Butler, which is also a 1916 silent short film that resides in the studio’s archive, via the MPAA’s Title Registration Bureau. The initial July 2 ruling sided with Warner Bros., and penalized TWC $25,000 for every day it continued to promote the film, due Aug. 16, as The Butler. At the time, Harvey Weinstein and TWC’s attorney David Boies protested the ruling, publicly and legally, claiming that there could be no audience confusion between their movie and the 1916 silent movie, and accused Warner Bros. of using the issue as part of a grander negotiation tactic. READ FULL STORY

Harvey Weinstein: There's 'ulterior motive' behind 'Butler' title fight -- VIDEO

Why is Warner Bros. really trying to stop The Weinstein Company from calling its upcoming Lee Daniels film The Butler? Harvey Weinstein has a few radical ideas — and naturally, he isn’t afraid to share them.

Weinstein appeared on CBS This Morning today, along with his lawyer David Boies,  former senator and current MPAA head Chris Dodd, and veteran constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams. After complaining that films often share similar titles — “Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have a movie out called [The] Heat. Jason Statham is shooting a movie called Heat. Bob De Niro and Al Pacino made a movie called Heat, and 10 years before that, Burt Reynolds made a movie called Heat” — the mogul posited that Warner must have “ulterior motives” for wanting The Butler to be renamed.

Weinstein’s rival is claiming protective rights to that title because it also belongs to an archival 1916 short film. Though movie titles can’t be copyrighted or trademarked, The Butler was registered with the MPAA’s voluntary Title Registration Bureau, which exists to avoid title conflicts; TWC apparently never cleared its Butler with the bureau. Warner Bros. won the case in arbitration, meaning that TWC must change the movie’s title unless it can win an appeal.

But according to Weinstein and Boies, there’s something more sinister going on here. On CBS, Boies accused Warner Bros. of trying to restrict competition from his client’s “important civil rights movie.” Weinstein went a step further, calling Warner Bros.’s actions “unjust” and “a bullying tactic.” He also claimed that the rival studio offered to cut him a shady deal: “I was asked by two executives at Warner Bros, which I’m happy to testify, that if I gave them the rights back to ‘The Hobbit’ they would drop the claim.”
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'The Butler' feud: Warner Bros. wins and Weinstein needs a new title [Updated]

Editor’s note: Variety reports that Warner Bros. won in arbitration and the Weinstein Company will need to choose a new title for “The Butler.”

It seems once you have a good Butler, you just don’t want to let him go.

The Weinstein Company’s upcoming movie The Butler, which stars Forest Whitaker as the African-American servant who worked in the White House for more than 40 years, has tripped over an industry obstacle on the way to its Aug. 16 release in theaters. As Deadline reported Monday, Warner Bros. is claiming protective rights to the film’s title due to a 1916 silent short film with the same name that resides in its archives, and both sides are heading to arbitration to reach a resolution.

Technically, this isn’t a legal issue, since you can’t typically copyright or trademark a movie title. But the MPAA has a voluntary Title Registration Bureau that the industry uses to self-regulate and avoid title conflicts that might confuse audiences. In this case, it’s unlikely that moviegoers are even aware of the 1916 silent film that Warner Bros. is citing, but TWC apparently never cleared the title.

More than likely, The Butler will be released as The Butler, but there’s a a good chance Warner Bros. will gain something in return via arbitration.

Here’s the trailer for director Lee Daniels’ star-studded movie:
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Weinstein Co. acquires distribution rights for 'The Butler'

The Weinstein Company has acquired the domestic distribution rights to Lee Daniels’ upcoming film The Butler.

The picture features Forest Whitaker as the titular butler, who served in the White House for 30 years under the administrations of eight different presidents. The rest of the cast consists of a litany of A-list talent from Hollywood and beyond: Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Melissa Leo, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, and Robin Williams.

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'The Paperboy' clip: Nicole Kidman's sexpot and John Cusack's inmate size each other up -- EXCLUSIVE

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When The Paperboy premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, director Lee Daniels’ follow-up to Precious created quite a stir, thanks in large part to Nicole Kidman’s performance as tarted-up sexpot Charlotte Bless, who’s eager to get her pen pal boyfriend (John Cusack) sprung from jail for a murder she swears he didn’t commit. She enlists the help of a Florida reporter (Matthew McConaughey) and his associate (David Oyelowo), and entrances the reporter’s younger brother (Zac Efron). But in this exclusive clip from the film — in which everyone meets Cusack’s character for the first time — Charlotte’s attention remains squarely on the man she’s hoping to free. Check it out below:  READ FULL STORY

'The Paperboy' trailer: Nicole Kidman does WHAT to Zac Efron?!

Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy — his follow-up to 2009′s Precious — is bound to be divisive. At Cannes, the film garnered both boos and a 16-minute standing ovation. (EW’s own Owen Gleiberman understands both reactions: “I wanted to do a catcall and clap encouragingly at the same time,” he wrote after seeing its premiere.) It’s fitting, then, that the movie’s just-released trailer also seems divided against itself. The clip’s first 45 seconds or so seem to promise a relatively straightforward thriller about a southern belle with a no-good fiance (Nicole Kidman) and the short-shorts-clad kid who pines for her (Zac Efron). And then things get weird.

Between the gratuitous half-nudity, the cheesy split-screen effects, the campy music, and the fleeting glimpse of Kidman peeing on Efron to soothe a jellyfish sting — seriously — The Paperboy seems like it could be the cinematic equivalent of Stefon‘s favorite clubs. But hey, what would you expect from a film with a poster that looks like the cover of a Jacqueline Susann novel? Watch the clip in all its pulpy glory after the jump.

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