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 June 2nd – 5th Annual Vevue Clicquot Polo Classic
 October 28th – LACMA Art + Gala
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The Weinstein Company 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 new photo has also debuted, which you can check out at the bottom of the page.
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 (the Harry Potter films), Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting).
Based on the screenplay by Danny Strong & Lee Daniels, The Butler 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 and family.
“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.”
The Butler is financed by Windy Hill Pictures, Follow Through Productions, Salamander Media, Salloway Rubenstein Productions/Crystal City Entertainment, Earl W. Stafford, Starstream Films, Yogi Entertainment, and Inner Media Capital. Executive Producers are Michael Finley, Sheila C. Johnson, Brett Johnson, Matthew Salloway, Earl W. Stafford, Jordan Kessler, Liz Destro, R. Bryan Wright, and James T. Bruce IV. Co-Executive Producers are Charles Sauveur Bonan, Allen Frederic, Kim Leadford, Harry I. Martin, Jr., Ari Daniel Pinchot and Jonathan Rubenstein.
Minka Kelly To Play Jackie Kennedy Opposite Matthew McConaughey’s JFK In Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler,’ Lenny Kravitz Also Joins
While “Precious” helmer Lee Daniels is nominally in Cannes at the moment to promote the debut of the follow up to his Oscar-nominee, “The Paperboy,” which screens tomorrow morning (keep your eyes peeled for our review), it seems the director also intends to leak out casting news for his upcoming project, “The Butler.” Earlier this week, it was revealed that Daniels would reunite with his “Paperboy” star Nicole Kidman on the project, and now Daniels has revealed that “Friday Night Lights” star Minka Kelly and “Precious” actor Lenny Kravitzhave been added to the growing ensemble of “The Butler” as well.
Based on a on a Washington Post article by Wil Haygood, “The Butler” tells the story of Eugene Allen, the late White House butler who served eight presidents during his tenure from 1952 to 1986. Forest Whitaker will topline the movie as Allen in a terrific, growing ensemble that includes David Oyelowo as Allen’s son and Oprah Winfrey as Allen’s wife, as well as Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr and Oscar nominee Terrence Howard in undisclosed roles. While Kravitz’s role is also unknown, the confusion over the Presidential roles is clearing up with Alan Rickman playing Ronald Reagan (Jane Fonda will play Nancy Reagan, much to the consternation of Conservatives), while John Cusack will play Richard Nixon. Matthew McConaughey, curiously, will play John F. Kennedy (we can hear it now: “All right, all right, Ich bin ein Berliner”), with Kelly taking the role of Jacqueline Kennedy.
Daniels admits that he took on the project after emotionally connecting to the material. “I connected with it because it is ultimately a father-son story with a civil rights backdrop,” Daniels told ScreenDaily. “In my lifetime there were separate water fountains, pools and toilets for blacks. People forget that. This is such an exciting journey for me.”
Production on “The Butler” is set to start on July 16th, with Daniels location scouting starting next Monday. Danny Strong (“Game Change“) and Daniels are currently working on the script. Looks like this will be targeting the Oscar season in 2013, although don’t rule out a late-summer release, a la “The Help.”