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Cannes 2012: Lee Daniels' "The Butler" A Sensation At Marché; Gets Nicole Kidman, July Start Date

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 21, 2012 11:27 AM
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Eugene Allen

By several accounts, Lee Daniels' next project after The Paperboy, The Butler, has been the "US arthouse sensation of the market" (the market being the Cannes Film Market happening right now, in case you haven't been following all out posts).

The sales company repping the film, IM Global, has already sold rights to the film to France, Australia, Japan, Italy, Germany, Benelux, Spain, Russia and Eastern Europe and Latin America; and a single frame hasn't even been shot yet. But such is the biz - foreign presales to help sure-up the budget, so that a frame CAN be shot.

And with the cast Daniels has been signing up for The Butler, it's no wonder: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, Terence Howard and Cuba Good Jr., Jane Fonda, and now Nicole Kidman, as announced earlier today.

Kidman just worked with Daniels in The Paperboy by the way; as did Oyelowo and McConaughey. 

The project is scheduled to begin principal photography this July on a project that's based on the life of White House butler Eugene Allen (pictured above) who served eight US Presidents during his tenure. Whitaker will play Allen in the film.

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More: Cannes Film Festival

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  • SIMONE | May 22, 2012 6:50 PMReply

    Black actor need to play every role, seriously, i don't understand the disappointment your talk about, this debate is not new, it exists since many many year, Hottie Mc Daniels were laughed behind her because she used to play maid role, she didn't care, "she said i prefer earn in playing a maid" Hottie used money she earn to help people, she didn't win a oscar because she was a maid, she won because she was a great actress, when i see the help i love the movie because Octavia is the absolutely fab, and viola Davis is also fab, not because the pay maid role. You can play a maid role without any talent, cinema make us shine, if we just focus on what wrong, we ain't going nowhere, it's a honor to play movie and express something may be captivate people. Role is difficult to obtain, the black actor must be give the best, to play variety role.

  • judi jordan | May 21, 2012 8:23 PMReply

    Yeah, I'm disappointed that talented director Lee is going the 'The Help' poor us - we're still colored folks route. Especially after Precious. But it shows you what the American film industry WANTS to fund when it comes to African American films. Keeping us in our place...unless we choose more enlightened material.

  • Tamara | May 21, 2012 6:41 PMReply

    I am equally intrigued in both Daniels projects. There's a lot of talent (and some eye candy) in those casts.

  • Neziah | May 21, 2012 5:46 PMReply


  • The Unit | May 21, 2012 3:22 PMReply

    Wow. This is one of the more exciting projects I have read about in years! Great cast and director!

  • CareyCarey | May 21, 2012 3:11 PMReply

    OH LORD... I'M SHOCKED! Tap-Tap-Tap -- Testing-1-2-3, is this web site down for repair? I can't believe the anti-Lee Daniel crowd is sitting on their hands? Could they be at Cannes with protest signs and loud bullhorns? There's no way in hell the "WE HATE MAID & SERVANTS MOVIES" crowd, read this post? Maybe they're busy clustering outside of New Orleans where Django Unchained is presently shooting. Then again, maybe they've had a change of heart since they exhausted all their ammunition in their attempt to shot down The Help? THAT'S IT! The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People got ahold of them colored folks and told them if you can't beat'em -- join'em. Yep, just like they did with that outstanding movie The Help. So hey, I answered my own question -- "where are they now". Well... the Quentin Tarantino film titled, Django Unchained is seeking Non-Union African American talent ages 18+ to play circa 1800's. The work dates are scheduled for June 14th, 15th, 18th, 19th and they're shooting near Santa Clarita. There will be paid mileage for this location. So be forewarned, they're seeking performers who match the following: African American, natural hair, natural bodies, should be thin to athletic. This is set in the 1800's so you can’t have modern day tattoos/ piercings/ etc. MUST BE OK PLAYING A SLAVE IN THIS SEQUENCE. Well-well-well, it looks like there's a train a comin' and you don't need a ticket -- just get onboard. My hand is raised. I can't wait to see Lee Daniels' The Butler and Quentin's "Django"! Forget about it, I am dead serious. To tell you the brutal truth -- although I feel sort of bad saying this -- I'd rather see The Butler and Django before I drop one thin dime on Spike's Old Boy. I know... I know... Spike is my all-time guy but Django and Lee Daniels' new one is sending a tingle up my spine. And my baby said she's go with me, so it's a date made in heaven... Me & Ms. Jones (my baby) & Lee Daniels ( I loved Precious) & Naked Slave Kerry Washington (even if she does sound like a white chick, I loved her naked ass in The Last King Of Scotland) & a real flat-ass White Chick who goes by the name of Nicole Kidman. DAMN! It don't get no better -- I can't wait. Where all my dogs at?

  • CareyCarey | May 21, 2012 10:16 PM

    My man, my man Tyrone... is that you? I have to ask b/c folks are not owning their comments nowadays. You know, they're posting under all kinds of monikers. But I have to give it to Kid Chaos -- ain't no shame in that boys game. :-(. But whatsup, you slummin'? Hey, when I saw your name, I had a thought. Although you could be the Tyrone Tackett who killed his wife and hid her body, there's a great story there. So if you still want to hookup, give ol'school a piece of your mind -->

  • Tyron Tackett | May 21, 2012 7:58 PM


  • ASWILLIAMS | May 21, 2012 12:21 PMReply

    This movie looks very promising with such a diverse and ensemble cast. I do look forward to expecting a lot of good reviews for this historical biographical film.

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