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Tag: Lee Daniels (1-10 of 15)

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.”
READ FULL STORY

'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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Casting Net: Hugh Jackman keen on MLK Jr. conspiracy drama. Plus: Selena Gomez, James Franco, Diane Lane

• James Franco will face off against Jason Statham in Homefront, a thriller written by (but not starring) Sylvester Stallone about a former DEA agent (Statham) who finds himself battling the head of a meth cartel in his new small town (Franco).  Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury) is directing. Doleful beat poetry is mostly likely not involved. [Variety]

• Selena Gomez will star with Nat Wolff (The Naked Brothers Band) and Austin Stowell (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) in the comedy Parental Guidance Suggested. Based on the Ric Browde novel While I’m Dead, Feed the Dog, the story follows a teenage kid (Wolff) who ends up on a raucous, music-related adventure that involves his high school crush (Gomez). Director Tim Garrick also wrote the screenplay. Dylan McDermott and Cary Elwes costar. [THR]

Diane Lane will star in Every Secret Thing, the feature debut of documentary filmmaker Amy Berg (Deliver Us From EvilWest of Memphis). Based on the Laura Lippman novel, the story follows two 18-year-old girls recently released from prison for killing a baby when they were 11. Lane will play one of the girls’ mothers. Nicole Holofcener (Please Give) penned the script. [Variety]

John Leguizamo has signed up for supporting roles in two wildly different movies. In Kick-Ass 2, he’ll play a protective henchman for Christopher Mintz-Plasse‘s nefarious Red Mist (who refashions his persona into an unprintable new villain). Meanwhile, in Ridley Scott‘s drug world thriller The Counselor, Leguizamo will play a low-level dealer. [Deadline]

• Luke Wilson is nearing a deal to star in Million Dollar Man, an indie comedy about a soda delivery driver who finds himself with the unlikely chance of becoming a kicker for the NFL. Scott Marshall (Keeping Up with the Steins) is directing from a script by producer Alex Schrader. [Variety]

• Demian Bichir (SavagesA Better Life) has joined the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy cop comedy The Heat, playing an F.B.I. agent. Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) is directing. [Deadline]

• Josh Gad (Broadway’s Book of Mormon) will costar in The Internship opposite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, as a misanthropic engineer employed at the tech firm that have just hired Vaughn and Wilson’s characters as newbie interns. Shawn Levy is directing from Vaughn’s script. [Deadline]

Read more:
Casting Net: Emma Stone attached to Cameron Crowe romance. Plus: Russell Brand, Taylor Kitsch, Bill Murray
Casting Net: Alex Pettyfer to run off with Kristen Stewart in ‘Cali.’ Plus: Jason Schwartzman, Paul Giamatti
Casting Net: Denzel Washington to play ‘The Equalizer.’ Plus: Jon Favreau, Jay Baruchel, Liev Schreiber

Cannes: 'The Paperboy,' starring Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman, proves that 'Precious' director Lee Daniels needs some common sense to go with his talent

When you hear about a movie that gets booed at the Cannes Film Festival, you tend to picture a monolithic thumbs-down chorus, like an ancient arena crowd turning on a gladiator. Actually, that’s not how it works. There is almost always at least some polite applause after film festival showings, so the boos, when they do happen, tend to be mixed in with clapping. That’s the sound I heard this morning when the closing credits rolled on Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy. And, in fact, that sound expressed my own feelings exactly. I wanted to do a catcall and clap encouragingly at the same time. READ FULL STORY

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