All Articles Tagged "lee daniels"
Some of you hate him and some of you just dislike him, but Lee Daniels is sitting pretty on the success of Lee Daniels’ The Butler. So pretty, in fact, that he’s ready to turn some heads with his latest project idea.
Daniels recently spoke to Out magazine and according to our friends over at The YBF, he gave a huge spoiler: the star will be a gay action hero.
He described the film as the “gay Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and will star Alex Pettyfer. Pettyfer has already worked with Daniels having co-starred in The Butler.
The problem he’s having right now is casting a very hot black man:
“Alex Pettyfer is in it, [but] I have to find the right black guy opposite him. He’s so hot, isn’t he? So hot. And so aware of his hotness in a way that’s so…I love him to death.”
Daniels also doesn’t think that his idea for the movie will turn movie executives off now that The Butler has likely solidified his place:
“I don’t think I’m going to have a problem now. I made a $100 million for The Butler. I’m in a rare group. So this is something I feel good about.”
We’ve got to admit he makes a good point. We just wonder who he has in mind for the role he’s trying to fill. Do you think Michael B. Jordan would consider it? He is the “It” guy in Black Hollywood right now.
What do you think about Lee Daniels’ new project? Who do you think should be cast opposite Alex Pettyfer?
When it comes to producers’ credits, the most newsworthy movie of the moment is definitely “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which has drawn media attention for having more than 40 different credited producers.
“I wish that there weren’t so many producer credits on this picture, because it is a little embarrassing for everyone within our community,” said Producers Guild of America co-president Mark Gordon in an interview with TheWrap. “But I do understand that there’s very little that someone won’t do to get a movie made. And in the end, if you look at that movie and you appreciate what its message is, and you weigh what they had to do and what they ended up with, I get it.”
Most of the credited producers are in the executive-producer and associate-producer categories, with IMDb listing seven associate producers, six co-producers, 18 executive producers and four co-executive producers. Only five – Daniels, Cassian Elwes, Buddy Patrick, Pam Williams and Laura Ziskin – receive the actual “Produced by” credit, and those five have yet to go through the vetting process that would result in the Producers Mark.
If the film is nominated for any awards, though, they will be.
“It will be arbitrated, and if it gets nominated we’ll announce who the real producers are,” said PGA co-president Hawk Koch.
Read more at EurWeb.com
Director Lee Daniels said he is “deeply” hurt when people say he doesn’t support African-American women, especially because of the intense connection he felt with them while growing up black and gay.
When Daniels stopped by the HuffPost Live studio to discuss his new film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” host Marc Lamont Hill asked about criticism surrounding recent remarks Daniel made about researching his movie “Precious.”
During an interview on “Larry King Now,” Daniels described visiting a health crisis center for gay men to learn about AIDS. He said that when he arrived, he saw “black women with kids — I thought I had walked into the welfare office.” The comment was part of a larger point that because gay black men are pressured to stay in the closet, many black women contract AIDS from men who are on the “down-low.”
Daniels told HuffPost Live that the criticism of his remarks hurts because African-American women were a lifeline for him during a difficult childhood.
“I wish I were straight because I love women so much. I love black women. They are the reason that I’m here today, because I rarely was accepted by any African American man growing up, inclusive of my dad,” he said.
Read more at BlackVoices.com
Lee Daniels: I Saw So Many Black Women And Kids At AIDS Center I Thought I Was At The Welfare Office
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when one minority attempts to to marginalize another for the sake of their own personal cause and that is exactly what “The Butler” director Lee Daniels did in a recent interview with Larry King.
In discussing his experience growing up gay and coming into his sexuality, Daniels made a very sharp left in what could have been a productive discussion. Apparently in a previous interview he had remarked that gay people are third class citizens and when asked to expound on this idea by King, Daniels threw this dagger:
“I think they are prejudiced upon even from the African Americans too. I think that the reason we have AIDS…I did a movie called ‘Previous’ and when I was doing the research for ‘Precious,’ I walked into the gay mens health crisis center in New York City and I expected to see studying [of] AIDS and HIV, I expected to see a room full of gay men, but there are nothing but women that are there – black women with kids, I thought I had walked into the welfare office – but they service black women with AIDS, why?
“Because black men can’t come out. Why? Because you simply can’t do it. Your family says it, your church says it, your teachers say it, your parents say it, your friends say it, your work says it. And so you’re living on this DL thing and you’re infecting black women.”
And that has what to do with black women being on welfare?
Look, I won’t pretend to know the struggle of being a homosexual black male, or to be an expert on the bureaucracy AIDS research and treatment when it comes to the black community. However, if black women are getting services in a gay men’s clinic, that’s a systematic issue, not one that has to do with prejudice from the black community. Furthermore, a man’s inability to live his life freely as an openly homosexual male has no bearing, in my mind, on his inability to be sexually responsible. Being chastised for your sexual orientation is not an excuse to one, play with a woman’s heart and pretend to be heterosexual when you’re not, and two, sleep around indiscriminately, particularity when you’re aware that there may be these biases in sexual health care as it relates to gay men.
And again I find myself asking what the hell does any of this have to do with black women being on welfare?
I don’t think I’m too far off when I say there was just a slight, if not overt, element of bitterness to Daniels’ narrative which no doubt stems back to his childhood and being beat by his father for being gay. But that’s not black women’s fault, nor is it their fault they’ve found some place to be serviced for sexual health issues. There is equal responsibility to be had amongst black men and women women it comes to the rapid spread of AIDS and finger pointting and excusing just won’t cut it if we really want to stop this epidemic and neither will stereotyping. Being the double minority that he is, Daniels should know this more than anyone else.
Check out the video of his interview below. What do you think?
“Black Filmmakers Are Saying Terrible Things About The Inhabitants Of Black America”: Actor Harry Lennix On State Of Black Film
If you missed it, actor Harry Lennix has been vocal about the state of black film. Lennix, probably known by most for starring in films like The Five Heartbeats, Get On The Bus, Love & Basketball and Ray, recently shared his thoughts on Lee Daniels’ new film, The Butler. Lennix called it “ni**erfied p*rn” when speaking with Shadow And Act, and while the actor initially read for a part in the film, after checking out the script, he wasn’t happy with what he saw:
“I read five pages of this thing and could not go any further. I tried to read more of it, and I’m not a soft spoken guy, but it was such an appalling mis-direction of history in terms of taking an actual guy who worked at the White House. But then he “ni**erfies” it. He “ni**ers” it up and he gives people these, stupid, luddite, antediluvian ideas about black people and their roles in the historical span in the White House and it becomes… well… historical p*rn. I refused.”
While he refused to mess with the movie, clearly many others were willing to spend their money to see it, because the film is number one at the box office right now. A major success considering it beat out popular action franchise Kick-A** 2. But Lennix stands by his comments, and has even managed to take them a step further in an op-ed he did for thewrap.com. In it, he discusses his disappointment with the images our own black filmmakers (not just Hollywood in general) are delivering us. Here are some excerpts from the piece:
The only place I never see normal black folks represented is in the increasingly popular films (and reality shows and music) being masqueraded as indicative of the Black Experience. A troubling stream of craven and depraved sociopaths and psychotics haunt the environs of black entertainment. The doom these figures inflict upon their familiars is taken for granted as a natural condition of our people.
These images and messages do not represent the predominant experiences and nature of my people — and I, for one, want it as widely known as possible that I reject them wholesale.
I take no part with, nor give any corner to, those who keep us in as a function of these images. I reject the reduction of the traumatized but decent people I know as marginalized slaves and menials. Equally bankrupt are the media offerings that show us as sanitized and shallow beyond recognition — devoid of serious concerns outside of those that are worthy of soap-opera treatment…
With greater frequency black filmmakers are saying terrible things about the inhabitants of Black America. While viewing a black film of the recent past (choose your own), I saw black women weeping their eyes out, scene after scene, abused and victimized by black men in a relentless parade of misery. What joy, I wondered, is to be found in this? Even in pathos, of course there is release. But surely there is a difference between pathos and sadomasochism.
Ironically, very little of artistic merit or craft is to be found in the dramatically bereft constructions of the other variety of black movie. Many of these projects feature very talented and attractive casts, slick direction, and high production values. The subject matter is seldom of great ambition or depth. They are designed to please the broadest possible demographic of black ticket buyers. Most of this work is innocent and innocuous enough, and thank goodness for this alternative. That stipulated, it would be less than honest to point to but a small few of these as artistically satisfying.
…And thank God there are still those who use the mediums available to them to create great art. To them belongs the future, should they only take the initiative to reclaim the present. And, please God, in reclaiming the idea of “black.”
After all, everything cool and edgy in our collective experience now is said to be the new version of black.
Frankly, I’d settle for the old kind. It beats the heck out of sitting chained up in a cave.
He makes some interesting points. You can check out the full op-ed at thewrap.com. Does Lennix have a point?
Even before the weekend got underway, it was clear that Lee Daniels’ The Butler was on its way to a good weekend. And a good weekend it had. The film brought in $25 million, making it number one for the weekend.
“The film opened on almost the same weekend as The Help two summers ago, and Harvey Weinstein is clearly aiming for a similar word-of-mouth fueled leggy run which translates into financial windfalls and Oscar nominations,” Forbes said. “This is on par with the $26 million that The Help opened with during the Fri-Sun portion of its Wed-Sun debut ($35m over five days) and it’s a bit less than the $29m that Warner Bros’ Jackie Robinson biopic 42 opened with just this April.”
Coming in second was We’re The Millers, the comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, with $17.78 million. And in third was Matt Damon’s new movie Elysium with $13.2 million. The other big new release Kick A$$ 2 came in fourth with $13.56 million and Jobs, the biopic about Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher, came in seventh with $6.7 million. (As a sidebar, the Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg flick 2 Guns was eighth with $5.7 million.)
Oprah’s celebrity is credited with giving The Butler a big push. “Apart from Winfrey’s unmatched marketing power, ‘The Butler’ also marked the mogul’s return to the big screen for the first time since 1998′s ‘Beloved,’” notes the AP. According to The Weinstein Company’s president Erik Lomis, the fact that there’s nothing else like it in theaters right now gives the film an edge. (Weinstein Co. is the company behind The Butler.)
But Forbes also credits the new-found strength of black movies with the weekend success as well.
“[T]here is a clear and obviously marketplace for major studio releases made by and/or for African-American moviegoers,” Forbes writes. “Where it goes from here is a completely open question, as I wouldn’t even try to guess what the legs on this thing will be. It will be interesting to see if the acquittal of George Zimmerman and/or the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act helps this film (both issues are at front-and-center in The Butler), just as California’s passage of Proposition 8 helped Milk become a major Oscar contender five years ago.”
Part of the author’s reluctance to predict the future is that there’s little precedence for a number one black film such as this one. In other examples used in the article – Django Unchained and 42, for example — there were white actors in the supporting cast. The point of view on this film is squarely from that of the black characters.
An opinion piece on CNN echoes this same sentiment, saying, “Though no industry pundit expects it to pass the magic blockbuster borderline of $100 million, ‘The Butler’ has already achieved enough capital, in money and buzz, to make people wonder whether it heralds yet another surge in serious commercial films about African-American life, past and present.
So moving into next weekend, the box office watchers will be keeping an eye on how the film does in its second week. Anyone who’s a fan of the British comedies Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead (and everyone should be) will be eager for the release of The World’s End, the final installment of the trilogy. So there’s definitely some competition.
Did you see The Butler? Thoughts?
The long-awaited release of Lee Daniels’ star-studded film The Butler is happening today and moviegoers are ready. The film is expected to open with a weekend box office take of $20 million to $25 million, which would put it ahead of the other big new release for this weekend Kick-A$$ 2 and likely put it in the number one spot. Jobs, the biopic about Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher, and Paranoia starring Harrison Ford and one of the Hemsworth brothers (Liam) are also opening, but they’re not expected to be a threat. Reviews for all three of the other new releases have been pretty bad, according to MTV News.
Reviews for Lee Daniels’ The Butler – which, it should be remembered, is a fictionalized account based on a true story and has the director’s name tacked on to the title because of a legal dispute – have been mixed. The New York Times today calls it a “brilliantly truthful movie” and praises the look and feel of the film. (You can thank Ruth Carter for some of the look of it. She served as costume designer for the film and spoke with us about that here.) “The genius of ‘The Butler’ lies in the sly and self-assured way it connects public affairs to private experience,” the review says.
Though referencing some of the film’s “stunt casting,” The Chicago Sun-Times says , “I believe every American student over the age of 12 should see this film, but that doesn’t mean it’s one of those good-for-you movies that feels like a history assignment. This is an important film presented as mainstream entertainment. It’s a great American story.”
And The Hollywood Reporter, though taking issue with one of the brutal opening scenes for its “caricaturing,” says about the film, “[E]ven with all contrivances and obvious point-making and familiar historical signposting, Daniels’ The Butler is always engaging, often entertaining and certainly never dull, the latter a fault for which neither the director nor the writer, thus far in their careers, can ever be accused. Each scene has its purpose and complimentary energy, the actors all seem unified in a joint cause and the angle from which the historical panorama is presented remains sufficiently unusual to sustain rapt attention.”
However, some of the reviews are not quite as positive. The Root says, “But what should have been a powerful story about one black man’s intimate relationship with power chokes on the struggle to give voice to ‘millions of black strivers’ and tips toward schmaltz. The all-star cast refuses to dim its lights in service of the humble butler’s story.”
The Wall Street Journal eviscerates the film with, “The contrivance is stretched to its breaking point over a running time of 132 minutes; some of the episodes cross a different line from almost plausible to downright silly.”
Across the board, there are references to the Oscar potential of the film, its resemblance to Forrest Gump, and the alternating good and bad performances of individual actors. Besides Whitaker and Oprah, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, Mariah Carey, John Cusack and Alex Pettyfer all make appearances. And while most reviews are happy to see this perspective on the big screen, one that’s usually missing, they see problems of cliche and melodrama in the film.
We haven’t seen the move yet, but the ads showcasing Forest Whitaker’s performance show an understated power that we’ve seen in most of his other performances. And Oprah looks divine! We’ll be checking it out. Will you?
In an interview at the National Association of Black Journalist annual convention director Lee Daniels was asked about the use of the n word in his new film The Butler. He responded very interestingly about his decision to not only include the word and what it says about the complexities of human nature and what it means to be racist.
Here’s what he said:
“For me, it was very strategic,” Daniels told a group of reporters at NABJ. “When we did use it, it was used later on by Cuba [Gooding Jr., as the head butler] making fun of someone that did use it, Lyndon Johnson. It was sort of the joke that this guy uses it. So when he says it and talks about, it opens up — like Paula Deen — the concept of white people loving us and really loving us and feeling that it’s fine to use the word N***a. That’s how Johnson felt. He did something that was incredible for us. That’s trying to be taken away from us right now. And yet, he used that word just like ‘pass the grits.’ Racism is a very hard thing to explain, especially in the South.”
I tend to agree with this statement. Sometimes racism is so pervasive and so embedded in society that behaviors we would automatically perceive as racist doesn’t translate in those ways to people who belong to the majority. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t be held accountable for your ignorance. Just ask Paula Deen.
Anyway, what do you think about Daniels’ comment? Is racism as black and white (no pun intended) as we think it is?
Today, I had the pleasure of going to the Waldorf Astoria (fancy!) for a press junket for Lee Daniels’ new film “The Butler.” The entire principle cast was there including the bigger names like Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whittaker, Cuba Gooding Jr, Mariah Carey, Terrence Howard and many more. (Trust me, it was star-studded.) The answers the actors and Daniels gave to each question were very thoughtful and insightful. But easily, the most entertaining moment from the junket when a film critic stood up to express her concerns about the film, just after Daniels spoke about how this project was not just a movie for him, but a movement. Here’s how the exchange went below. And just because it’s always best to hear how people say certain things, I encourage you to listen to the actual audio on the next page, which also includes commentary from Cuba Gooding Jr. as well.
LR: Thank you and congratulations to each of you. My name is Lavar Renee (sp) and I’m a film critic, so my question is going to be a concern that I had in watching the movie.
Lee Daniels grasps Oprah and Forest Whittaker’s hands.
No Lee, that’s not necessary… And a trend that I see in many current movies and that is the inauthenticity in casting. When I saw the young man who was to portray John F. Kennedy. I was concerned because there was a disconnect between the president and what I saw. And that was true for Reagan as well as LBJ. My question is will you explain how you cast when you are producing and directing a biopic which is supposed to reflect truth of reality?
Lee Daniels: Well let me first, let me ask you a question, did you like them as those characters?
LR: I did not.
Daniels: Ok. Well that is…I’m sorry that you felt that way…
LR: I liked the movie…
Daniels: Oh good…
LR: I just was concerned, when I saw these I said ‘why aren’t they real?’ Another point and then I’ll sit down. When Louis was presenting himself at the table as a panther, I interviewed panthers, they did not look the way he was dressed and attired. So that’s what threw me off but I liked the movie and I commend each of you. Thank you.
Daniels: Thank you. Let me first address the panther. I’ve had uncles that were panthers and Louis was based on my uncles that were panthers. So you might have interviewed panthers, ma’am, but I have lived with them and I’m proud of my uncles that were panthers. And in regards to the presidents I think they have done a tour de forcible job and I think that’s what makes me a filmmaker and you an interviewer. Next.
Forest Whittaker: I’ve gotten the opportunity to play historical characters a number of times. And this is not a documentary. These are artists trying to convey the spirit of a person in a time. Liev and James did, I think, beautiful jobs. I don’t look like Charlie Parker. I really don’t look anything like Edi Amin and I feel what we’re trying to find is the spirit or the soul of a character to give that, for you to feel that energy. Things are energetic, things are about energy and their being-ness. And that’s what they’re trying to give to you. It’s unfortunate that you look to more the drawing or the painting and not as much towards the spirit or the soul, which is what I think we’re trying to convey.
Liev: I am authentically sorry that you didn’t like what we did. I really am.
Lee Daniels: I’m not!
When you watch a film, many things stand out: the actors, the writing, the quality of its direction. But, we often overlook what really makes a film feel real. The little details like what the characters wear and what their homes look like allow us to get lost in the story without our realizing it. Now, if it were done wrong, then we would have something to say.
For all the glamour of Hollywood, it’s the smaller, thankless jobs that give the industry it’s magic. Ruth Carter, a two-time Academy Award nominee for costume design, is one of those tireless workers. Her gift of storytelling through fashion has helped take classic films like Malcolm X and Amistad to new heights.
Her latest project is Lee Daniel’s The Butler. On the cusp of the film’s release, we caught up with Ms. Carter to find out how a self-proclaimed 80s “anti-fashion” girl, has flourished in Hollywood for 20-plus years.
MadameNoire: What is the source of your love of fashion?
Ruth Carter (RC): I was very much an ’80s girl. So, everything: “Material Girl” Madonna, Whitney Houston, big mismatched earrings, flat pointed-toe scrunched boots (in white), ankle tight Girbaud jeans, shoulder pads in tee shirts, (tucked in and belted). I wore (on bad hair days) the Eddie Murphy style brimless leather hat and, on good days, my hair cut was “feathered.” I rocked red tights with fishnet hose over top and a grey acid washed mini skirt with a horizontal black and white stripe bodysuit and lots of buttons. My favorite jacket was a military style vintage “eton” jacket with gold buttons. And I LOVED anything vintage! What more can I tell you? All your readers that know the ’80s will totally “get it.” But, what’s also fitting is, I considered myself the “anti-fashion”. Ironically, I guess that created my love of fashion, even if it was by default.
MN: How did you get into costume design?
RC: I tried out for a play and didn’t make it. The professor who was directing the play, “Moliere’s Would-Be Gentleman,” asked me if I would like to do the costumes for it. And that started it all!
MN: What was your favorite film to work on?
RC: I have lots of favorites. There is no ultimate answer. It depends on, my circumstances, my experience, all kinds of variables at the moment. But, I loved Malcolm X because I experienced the best elements of design and filmmaking all together at once. Sparkle was amazing because I got to explore and produce the great genre of the 1960s. The costumes of Amistad were enormously rewarding challenges and add to it the opportunity to work with the great Steven Spielberg. The film about Tina Turner’s life story, What’s Love Got to do With It?” was an incredible experience, in hindsight. Making that film was hard, but it was magical to see it on the big screen.