Forest Whitaker In Negotiations To Headline Lee Daniels' "The Butler" (Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo Also In)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 6, 2012 7:05 PM
47 Comments
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Last I wrote about this project a couple of weeks ago, Oprah Winfrey was said to be eyeing a role in director Lee Daniels' The Butler, to be produced by Laura Ziskin (Pretty WomanAs Good As It GetsSpider-Man 12 & 3) - the drama based on Eugene Allen, an African American who worked as a butler in the White House for over 34 years, serving 8 presidents from 1952 to 1986.

Also... Recall it was rumored that Denzel Washington was Daniels' man for the starring role as the butler, but word has been that he wants David Oyelowo instead (who is also attached to star as MLK in Daniels' in Limbo project Selma, and will appear in Daniels' recently-completed thriller The Paperboy).

First announced in mid-2010 as a Sony Pictures project, The Butler is now being financed independently, and Daniels has reportedly been busy "putting together a top-notch cast."

And adding to that "top-notch" cast is Forest Whitaker, who Variety says is also now in negotiations to play the title role, as Eugene Allen, the titular butler! David Oyelowo would instead play his son in the film.

As already reported, Oprah Winfrey would play the butler, Eugene Allen’s wife.

Other actors being offered roles include Mila Kunis to play Jackie Kennedy, and John Cusack to play Richard Nixon. Hugh Jackman's name is also in the mix, but no word on what character he'd play.

Allen started at the White House as a “pantry man” in 1952 when blacks weren’t allowed to use public restrooms in his native Virginia. He ended up serving eight presidents, and had a unique front row seat, as political and racial history was being made, from the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, to the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy Jr.

The film is based on a series of articles written on Allen by Wil Haygood.

If financing comes together for this (based on this cast thus far, as well as the producer names, I'd be surprised if it didn't eventually) this could be one of those films that's buzzed about during awards season, during whatever year it's released.

Stay tuned...

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47 Comments

  • CareyCarey | March 8, 2012 3:10 PMReply

    Excuse us Tambay as the big boopers continue to hi-jack the sh*t out of this post LMBAO. Damn, I am getting awfully jealous up in here. So excuse my French and street vernacular, but y'all (below)have shown signs of being some good-ass writin' MF'ers :-). Yeah, I said it, BONDGIRL, CHARLES "Micheal" Jordan and Jug are killing this freakin' post. Come on now... this party would be "almost" complete if Accidental Visitor, Nadine and Cherish sharpened their pencils and joined the conversation. Are you kidding me... y'all have me feeling like Willie lump-lump up in here. I am not worthy but I sure am loving being in the wake of such bad-ass scribes and wordsmiths. I am telling you guys right now, I'm stealing some of yo shit and calling it mine *lol*

  • Rasheed | March 8, 2012 1:13 PMReply

    @Bondgirl-
    All good. :D

    @Jug (or anyone else that can answer this)-
    Was Denzel actually attached to The Butler or was he just mentioned by Lee Daniels as who he'd like for the part? I ask because this doesn't seem like a "Denzel role". The Butler sounds far too, as MFA said, passive for Denzel these days. Denzel and Samuel L. Jackson are cinemas baddest two Black men in the country right now and a part like this seems... regressive to me.

    @Charles Judson-
    Great comments. I don't know if I agree with all of it, particularly the rebirth of the R-rated comedy and the cinematic lineage of Project X, but well thought out. As to The Wire: at this stage in Black tv/film development, I don't know if we will ever see a mainstream Black created property as morally ambiguous and challenging as The Wire. I hate that I think like this but look at the majority of Black created projects over the last decade: comedies, biopics, religious dramas, chick flicks, remakes.

  • Jug | March 8, 2012 1:34 PM

    I could dig around. But if it got announced, the odds are he was attached, at the very least in negotiations-but nothing set in stone. You're only "the guy" once that movie hits screens LOL I agree, I think they came to Denzel but he has decidedly said "I'm going to put the demons of VIRTUOSITY & MIGHTY QUINN to rest" LOL TRAINING DAY, SAFE HOUSE, BOOK OF ELI & now 2 GUNS-he's reinventing himself as part Bruce Willis, part Matt Damon. The thinking man's asskicker!

  • Nadine | March 7, 2012 8:20 PMReply

    The timing is unfortunate, but this movie seems less like The Help and more like Remains of the Day (which was a pretty good movie). I suspect it will have that similar ROD feel and be backed up with a better plotline than The Help, of course, given its connection to real-life events. My major PROBLEM is Lee Daniels who, by association, can make anything dirty and my UNEASE is at the re-emergence of the Black man as domestic servant returning to the Zeitgeist. I'm eager to see how this develops.

  • Lonny | March 7, 2012 7:59 PMReply

    His story deserves to be told too. I think the title should change though. I'm sure defining that man by his job title in not the intent of the film..

  • Rasheed | March 7, 2012 6:19 PMReply

    @Jug
    They're actually moving forward with The Lone Ranger. I guess they're just gonna ignore the whole "redface" thing with Depp playing Tonto. Go figure.
    I know that projects fall apart for any number of reasons all the time, but The Butler, a film about Black domestics, suddenly gaining traction after The Help's success tells me that this may be a mini trend.

  • Jug | March 8, 2012 1:21 PM

    @Rasheed-Guess they found a way to get around the "redface" LOL http://www.deadline.com/2012/03/lone-ranger-disney-johnny-depp-armie-hammer-photo/

  • Jug | March 8, 2012 1:21 PM

    WOW! I love it! Y'all were burning it down. I had this looong response but I said y'all done beat this thing up good. But I will say this: There's Truth & there's Fact. People use them interchangeably, especially in terms of entertainment & art, but there're not the same thing. We say we want "Fact", but what we really want is "Truth". Simply put, I worship the ground THE WIRE walks on, both as piece or entertainment, of craft & of social commentary. I've read oodles on THE WIRE & what I love most is David Simon's drafting of the show following Greek tragedy. That we are smaller than our Capital "I" Institutions & Ideas. We try to be bigger than them, but the more we fight against them, the more we are crushed under their weight. Justice system, educational system, media, vices-we want to be better but we can't. But it's also an indictment of forgotten parts of our country, the ones being left behind because of innovation & technological revolutions-hard industry & physical labor centers like St Louis, Baltimore, N.O., Detroit. Black people & white people-they're all the same. So he wasn't making a "Black" show. He made a show about blighted areas of our country that happen to have large centers of Blacks-primarily to good paying jobs you could have with little to no education & a lower standard of living to get by. Now, those cities are dead &/or dying. And no one cares. But above all that, dude makes tv shows & he made a classic cops & robbers! Remember, the second season of THE WIRE was practically all white. The season at the ports with the Greeks & the Polish. People forget that one, but it was a beast too, also as a matter of practicality because no one knew if the show would come back after the first season so when it did, they had to come up with a new storyline that still fit the overall themes of the show, the disintegration of a city-while still being "cops & robbers". Yeah, waay too much to go into about THE WIRE, but to call it a "Black" show is not just off the mark but doesn't even do the show justice. It's like saying Cosby was a "Black" sitcom. Waaay more than that.

  • CareyCarey | March 8, 2012 12:12 PM

    My man, my man, I knew you would jack-up your slacks and get the job done! Throw me a bone and send me a draft when and if you submit it.

  • Charles Judson | March 8, 2012 12:01 PM

    Mission accepted.

  • CareyCarey | March 8, 2012 11:59 AM

    @ Bondgirl and Charles. Y'all probably know that I love using song lyrics to express a point, so in reference to a discussion/debate on THE WIRE, I have a song by Les Mc Cann. Here it goes---> It's called Let It Lay... "My father used to always say to me when he saw me getting in trouble, he would say things loke let it go or let it lay. Well, the first time I ever saw her, she looked so good, so good to me. I never in my lifetime thought I'd find a girl who my colored mind would please. All my friends had warned me that I was seeing double. Just take a look at her, she's big time trouble. Watch out it states, she'll close the gate, let it lay lay hey hey, WATCH OUT NOW... you better let it lay... don't put your hands on it, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah". *BIG SMILE* I am suggesting that we will have every blog police that has ever graced the pages of S & A, e-mailing Tambay and scratching at our eyes if we ever opened a debate about The Wire. I mean, we couldn't do it justice without looong detailed comments. And lord know many folks live and die by short tweets and 10 word drive-by's. Well, maybe I should speak for myself. I have a load to say about The Wire. And I am more than sure, you Charles, and you Bondgirl, can write a complete book on it... and do it very well. Yes sir, just the few points Charles mentioned is a launching pad. But wait, I have a suggestion. Now I don't know if S & A has done a post specifically about The Wire, but Charles, reminiscent of Mission Impossible, it's your job to submit a post to S & A to get this ball rolling... "if you decide to take on this mission..." :-)

  • Charles Judson | March 8, 2012 11:06 AM

    Thanks @Carey and @Bondgirl. And to your point @Bondgirl, I think a followup debate about THE WIRE would be fascinating. I know so many people from Baltimore who were proud of THE WIRE warts and all. Then there are others who thought it's depictions, even in promoting the concept that drug dealers could be just as intelligent and even principled as the cops, were insulting. I think THE WIRE is the prototypical project that if it wasn't so critically acclaimed, if it hadn't been on HBO, if it hadn't had a heavy hitting roster of talent in front of and behind the camera, could have been polarizing. Even now S&A is posting about a BBC show inspired by it. So is the legacy of THE WIRE good or bad for Black folk? Have and will some folks walk away with the wrong ideas, a la White kids who watched the CHAPPELLE'S SHOW? What did Black creators take away from it? And a really touchy question, could someone Black have created a show like THE WIRE, can and will someone Black create a show like it in the future?

  • BONDGIRL | March 8, 2012 10:07 AM

    @Rasheed: If you felt berated by comment, that wasn't my intent...maybe just a smidge of snark;-) @Carey, Jug, & Charles: Excellent points made,especially this--->>"100% accuracy can be very boring, dull and unengaging. So, if the director and/or the producer/writer desires to capture the audience's emotional attention, they might decide to give up a little accuracy in favor of hitting them in their sweet spots"<<--I will be repeating because it goes to the heart of the argument of why I was less offended by The Help than say, The Wire.

  • CareyCarey | March 8, 2012 4:49 AM

    Okay Charles, I see where you're coming from. I missed your central point in your first comment. But the following says it all ----> "But, as I've done here, if you get too intellectual, you risk telling a story that's flat and unegaging. However, the other reality is, it's hard to craft a story that represents every situation. It is much easier, and frankly dramatically stronger, to craft stories that represent the emotions and the themes of multiple situations and don't aim for 100% moment by moment accuracy". Yep Charles, I agree, you're basically saying "you have to give-up some to get some". In other words, 100% accuracy can be very boring, dull and unengaging. So, if the director and/or the producer/writer desires to capture the audience's emotional attention, they might decide to give up a little accuracy in favor of hitting them in their sweet spots (whatever and however that may be). In the end, you're basically saying every emotion is felt by every human (regardless of their race), so the basic challenge and/or goal of a filmmaker is (should be) to frame a movie to reach a broad range of moviegoers, which might lead to "accuracy" taking a back seat. And The Help, Glory and Forrest Gump did just that. I gotcha.

  • Charles Judson | March 8, 2012 1:42 AM

    Only way my analyzing works is if you factor in human emotions. You can't get nostalgic or weepy eye over your childhood without them. And that underlies my points about a film like Forrest Gump or The Help. It's very difficult to create historical films that are hits with multiple generations and multiple people by adhering to accuracy. When it happens, it's because those films rarely have gone for accuracy, or for accuracy alone, they've gone for something else. Something more universal. An example is in GLORY. In the original history, it's not Denzel's character that encourages the men to tear up their pay stubs, it's Matthew's character. But as a story about Black Men coming together and becoming a fighting force, it emotionally sucks you in at that point, especially as Denzel's character starts as such an outsider. GLORY only works as a movie because it DOESN'T adhere strictly to history. But, unlike THE HELP, GLORY still tracks closer historically, Men fighting for their freedom both metaphorically and physically, than THE HELP's girl power will trump racism theme. Both in the 19th century and again in the 1970s, it became evident that the Black woman's concept of the equality fight and the White woman weren't on the same page. BUT, if we really want to take that further, we need to address how Black men's concept of equality didn't exactly include Black women either, or was in complete, or was often blind to the sexism of their own organizations. But, as I've done here, if you get too intellectual, you risk telling a story that's flat and unegaging. However, the other reality is, it's hard to craft a story that represents every situation. It is much easier, and frankly dramatically stronger, to craft stories that represent the emotions and the themes of multiple situations and don't aim for 100% moment by moment accuracy. So for THE BUTLER, the question is how much will the film find those moments that have greater meaning or universal truth, and how much will it just a film about a butler who happened to be in the White House at such a turbulent time in U.S. history? I hope it's not the later.

  • CareyCarey | March 7, 2012 11:44 PM

    Well Charles, I see a fork in the road. I believe you're over analyzing this one. In particular, you've left out the basic elements of human emotions and the core ingredients behind the success of the films you mentioned. Seriously... Baby Boom generation hitting middle age? Psychologically the right film for the right time? Forrest Gump is a film that hit just as the kids from the 1980s were becoming adults in a post-Regan, fall of communism period??!! Charles, all that sounds delicious and very intellectual, however, it goes without question that numerous other films came out during the same periods in question, and they, did not do-so-well. I am suggesting that Forrest Gump was hands down a well directed, and superbly acted film, with excellent special affects. It's appeal had little or nothing to do with the parameters you mentions. It simply played to the heart of human emotions... love, hope, joy and happiness. Every human loves a love story. And it goes without question that we all live and hope for happiness. The movie Forrest Gump gave us all of that, if only for 2 hours. Now, to a large degree the same can be said about The Help. First, there's no denying that the acting performances were excellent. The "hope" element was present in the struggles of the maids and their desire to overcome their situation. We were given happiness and moments of delight by the small victories of the servants, and the female character who was writing the book. Additionally, every time the snooty "employers" were made to look silly or pompus, we again felt a small sense of victory. In short, I do not believe the average moviegoers enters a movie with a head full of conscious thought related to their past lifes experiences. They may anticipate a certain "type"of film, but our emotions; laughter, sadness, happiness, joy, compassion, surprised, etc., are all reactions to exterior stimuli. They all have little or nothing to do with the world around the individual, past or in the future. Granted, a person can be experiencing clinical depression , which could make them incapable of certain emotions, but I am sure you know what I mean. In short, the films you mentioned engaged us emotionally, time and time and time again. And generally they were feel good emotions.

  • Charles Judson | March 7, 2012 10:09 PM

    Piggybacking off Jug's comments, I'm still not sure how marketable a film like THE BUTLER would be unless it is very Forrest Gump like. We have to keep in mind that we're now far enough removed from the Civil Rights era that a film like THE BUTLER has to appeal to people who were born after 1964 and don't have any real recollection of that time period. As Jug pointed out, it's THE HELP's female empowerment and solidarity angle that really drove it home more than anything else. Forrest Gump is a film that hit just as the kids from the 1980s were becoming adults in a post-Regan, fall of communism period when they were starting to get married and leave behind childhood. And the Baby Boom generation was hitting middle age and were both full of nostalgia and longing. Filled with optimism and a character having to navigate an ever changing United States, it was psychologically the right (non-partisan) film for the right time. It's the same reason why THE HELP was successful, yet pissed off so many people, because it's really a film about women in general and not a more faithful historical recreation. It's a film for 2011. But, the same could be said about SCHINDLER'S LIST or JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG--which also oversimplify and overstate history, the villains, and roles and impact the "heroes" played. It's rare that any film featuring a historical event is about that event. It's really about TODAY as seen through that historical event. You can just look at the war films Mel Gibson has done in the last 15 years to see strains of modern American politics and post Vietnam fatigue. To that end, THE BUTLER is probably more alive than dead because of Obama's presidency and where we are now as a country as we toss around and debate concepts like post-racial and the end of Affirmative Action, than anyone really wanting to keep Black folks subservient. Which makes me wonder if there isn't a story of someone who started working in Washington in the 1950s and worked his way up, that would be just as fascinating. The story of a Black man working in the FBI, even if you start in the 1970s, has to be ripe both dramatically and socially for all kinds of stories. Unfortunately, the concept of a Black man working inside the White House prior to the Civil Rights Movement and after is an easy bake metaphor.

  • Jug | March 7, 2012 7:07 PM

    Yea, I know. But only after the budget for LONE was scaled waaaaay back. AND they got rid of the vampires & monsters. Yes...it had vampires & monsters in it :-( Universal killed Tom Cruise & Guillermo Del Toro's greenlit AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS & Gore Verbinksi's BIOSHOCK (after he made Disney over 2 Billion-with a "B"-with the first 3 PIRATE films). But the point being, is that Denzel was originally attached to THE BUTLER. Shoulda been a no-brainer, right? Two time Oscar winner, Oscar nominated director & a "feel good" FORREST GUMP-esque romp through race relations & backroom goings on the White House of the last half century? Like THE WEST WING & ROOTS had a love child. So, what happened? Again, Denzel. Does. Not. Come. Cheap. I get what you're saying about the timing, but I think the "domestic Black angle' is too easy. Because as much as we would like to believe that was the reason, that Hollywood sees dollar signs in "race" and "denigrating Black people", there have been other films about Black people fighting the odds, in subservient positions that got no love or went by the wayside. BUT, how many of them featured strong female leads? THE HELP blew up because it was a best selling book and then word of mouth spread like wild fire-it's a great movie for Women. Me, I'm a big believer that studios & networks are falling all over themselves to throw female anything at the wall and see if it sticks-EXCEPT for Comedy LOL For some reason, BRIDESMAIDS can get Oscar nominations, break VOD records & be flat out hilarious & we get more tired re-tread of Seth Rogen & Jonah Hill. But back on BUTLER, I have no idea what made the project stall. I mean, THE PAPERBOY was a project Daniels was doing at the same time, it stalled for a bit. So did the VALLEY OF THE DOLLS pilot he's doing. Haven't heard anything about the LGBT pilot he's doing for Showtime, his HBO family drama has been MIA too. Stuff takes time, and the more time it takes, the more chances for unraveling. Even his MLK project, and the two or three others, were full steam ahead until they all got holes shot in 'em by Andrew Young & the King Estate. Hugh Jackman had even gained like 30lbs and what not to play the racist sheriff LOL. But really, a movie about Black butlers? Might be a great film, Oscar worthy even, but not a "box office burner". That movie wasn't about race necessarily as it was about Womanhood. That's what put it over the top. I think for some reason Denzel bailed on BUTLER, they probably couldn't meet his price or he wanted to be Billy Badass for his next couple of films, and there was no one else of that caliber of Marquee cache who wanted to do it or was available. I mean, there's only so many "Hokes" Morgan Freeman can play LMAO

  • Rasheed | March 7, 2012 6:11 PMReply

    @Bondgirl
    Wow...
    Do you berate everyone you disagree with or is that just an internet thing? Just asking.
    Anyway, to your point. You're actually telling me that The Help's success, which includes huge box office, critical response, and public acceptance, didn't get The Butler moving forward in production...even though it was announced (according to the above article) two years ago and there had been no real movement until recently? OK.

  • Charles Judson | March 7, 2012 7:37 PM

    Hollywood is a business. Contrary to belief, they rarely chase one movie. Yes, it's true another movie's success can help push another movie forward, but execs/producers (in TV and Film) have a long history of being burned trying to follow a Star Wars or a Gone With The Wind and have moved away from that. People thought the rated R comedy was back several times. Wedding Crashers in 2005 being an example. What people don't acknowledge is that it was several years of build up since There's Something About Mary in 1998, American Pie in 1999, and Scary Movie in 2000 before Hollywood really committed to bringing back Rated R comedies en masse on a regular basis in the last five years. PG-13 has been the land of safety for studios and as younger audiences abandon the theater, "low" budget R films are becoming a safer bet. Project X exists as an R film because of that 15 year build up and what's happening with audiences in general, not because The Hangover did well. You also have to consider that The Help was based on a best selling book, aimed at women, and had buzz both good and bad, and thematically falls in line with films like Steel Magnolias or First Wives Club. It's a very easy sale. The Butler has none of those things. Only a tone deaf producer would see The Butler and The Help as being similar and move forward based on that. Not that it hasn't happened, but it's much rarer in the modern post-studio system era than folks make it out to be. As the system exists now, production moves to slow and is too expensive, especially in P&A, to follow up a hit from 2011 with a totally unrelated film in 2013. You only really see rip offs and "inspired" by films coming in the form of straight to DVD quickie projects in the last 15 years. And they follow the same pattern as their ultra-ultra-low budget theatrical ancestors from the 1970s and 1980s, they stick to Genre, Comedy, Parody and Niche, basically 80% of USA's Up All Night line-up. Areas of film that have always been easy to market and package since the earliest days of film. It's only in TV shows that execs still feel comfortable enough to chase another company's success. Now if there were a The Help TV show that blew up, I'd much more believe an NBC exec would want to do their own The Help there than I would in film.

  • onyx | March 7, 2012 1:30 PMReply

    I need to add one more thing. Back in 1968, there was a large outcry against the film adaption of William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner. Styron's book shares a number of similaries with Stockett's The Help, as his main character is self loathing, much like Aibileen in The Help (novel). James Baldwin, Styron's friend, championed the novel, much like Octavia Spencer did with Kathryn Stockett. Back in 1933 Fannie Hurst had Zora Neale Hurston speaking up for her novel Imitation of Life, and for a time Hurston was able to convince Langston Hughes to do the same. However Hughes soon changed his mind, lampooning the novel with his own stage play called Limitations of Life. I'm not sure why publishers and Hollywood seem to think the docile, suffering in silence minority is so beloved. These are overused caricatures, and were originally created to show blacks how "Good Negroes" should behave. Everyone gets angry. Even Jesus did when he threw out those defiling his father's house. Yet there are those who want to hold on strongly to an image of African Americans that was never created by us, but constaintly pimped as "authentic."

  • sandra | March 7, 2012 2:04 PM

    @ONYX - 100% truth! Enough with this rose-tinted revisionist history bullcrap!

  • Ali | March 7, 2012 1:20 PMReply

    Talk about knee-jerk reactions! I...think it sounds like it could be interesting. *runs and ducks from the rotten tomatoes*

  • onyx | March 7, 2012 12:41 PMReply

    In 1979 Backstairs at the White House was a popular miniseries which covered the life of Lillian Rodgers Parks. Parks worked for over thirty years as a maid and seamstress, and had been introduced to the job by her mother who was the first in their family to work at the White House during the tenure of several presidents. http://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/black-domestics-speak/
    During an exchange I had on twitter with one of the executive producers of The Help, I mentioned that Backstairs was out on DVD. The miniseries included Louis Gossett Jr, Leslie Ugghams, Robert Hooks, Paul Winfield, Hari Rhodes, Olivia Cole among others.

  • Rasheed | March 7, 2012 12:25 PMReply

    @Bondgirl
    According to the article, The Butler was ANNOUNCED in 2010 under Sony but apparently went nowhere since it's just now being financed independently. Being announced and actually GREENLIT are two different things. If The Butler was greenlit before The Help, why is it just now being cast? Trust that if The Help had bombed or even underperformed, The Butler would still be in turnaround. And yes, that 25% Black b.o. you mentioned (link?), not to mention all of the word of mouth support by the NAACP, etc, absolutely sent a message to Hollywood.

  • Nadine | March 7, 2012 8:03 PM

    When are the casting chicks NOT bitchy... that's gonna get handled though...

  • CareyCarey says OUCH! | March 7, 2012 1:36 PM

    Stop it BONDGIRL, you're dropping too much free knowledge and wisdom on Rasheed. We wouldn't want to break the man's spirit or turn him into a poor hustler *LOL*

  • Jug | March 7, 2012 1:31 PM

    @Bondgirl-Wouldn't be surprised at all LOL And you ain't lyin'. Just because a project is greenlit, doesn't mean it will get made. @Rasheed-LONE RANGER, AMERICAN GANGSTER, AKIRA, PARADISE LOST-all greenlit films that fell apart for one reason or another. Mainly MONEY-For GANGSTER, the budget ballooned to over 100 Mil, Fuqua was fired & Denzel & Benecio got paid pay or play deals of 20 Mil & 5 Mil respectively without setting foot on set. "Shit Happens" as they say. I always thought BUTLER died because folks were skiddish on Daniels. Everyone loved PRECIOUS for the performances but inside Hollywood folks looked sideways at the direction. Guess it was other "shit" LOL

  • BONDGIRL | March 7, 2012 1:15 PM

    @Rasheed: I work in development, and just had a 2 hour meeting on Monday with the *bitchy* casting director of The Butler....please don't act like you have to explain to me production details. Black people did not help The Butler get pushed forward, it's a process that takes time like any other film. Part of my discussion with the CD at Chrystie Street Casting was how many of her projects get stalled or put in development hell for a myriad of reasons that have NOTHING to do with the audience it's being marketed to. You would also be surprised at the name actors who blew their chances of being in the film simply because they came to the audition unprepared (hopefully you know what that "term" means), thinking that they were too established to be subjected to an audition.

  • Rasheed | March 7, 2012 1:50 AMReply

    ...and this is what happens when movies like "The Help" become critical and box office hits. Hollywood rushes out to make 5 more just like it. Well, we've got no one to blame but ourselves. We supported that film in droves and Hollywood heard us. They're giving us more of what we want...right?

  • BONDGIRL | March 7, 2012 10:39 AM

    @Joe: What you are indicating is a different argument. Rasheed was trying to link the success of one film to another that was already gestating years prior. There is also a black lesbian film in development, but it didn't have anything to do with the critical success of Pariah. Yes, it often happens where genre films get remade over and over, but Rasheed is making a direct correlation that can't be applied in this instance. You have to connect the dots explicitly, not in the abstract.

  • Joe | March 7, 2012 10:08 AM

    Makes sense to me. "The Help" and this project are just following a long line of anti-black films tailor made for white folks. I don't foresee the producers worrying about a black boycott.

  • BONDGIRL | March 7, 2012 9:51 AM

    Your comment makes absolutely no sense. This film was greenlit before The Help became the box office and critical success, so it was certainly NOT based on another film that it's getting made. However, even if that was the case 1) blacks account for 25% of BO receipts, so if anyone was to *blame* it would be white and Latino support of the film that ushered in more like it and 2) the producers have to be worried that blacks would boycott it like they did The Help.

  • MFAScreenwriter | March 7, 2012 1:09 AMReply

    Read the script a while ago...

    It wasn't bad but I'm hoping it is extensively rewritten. For one, Eugene the Butler is remarkably passive. This is a dramatic failure first and foremost. It's just not entertaining. It's not how protagonists are supposed to act. This passivity also has political/social implications. I try to avoid breaking things down along a sellout-righteous dichotomy because it's not that simple. Not even Malcolm X could be Malcolm X all the time. But it takes a real insightful historian or storyteller who accesses history to find the ways in which blacks applied about a million different strategies to cope with daily discrimination, degradation and terrorism. Eugene only plays one card for 2+ hours and I'm tired of this depiction because it isn't true.

    The script also gave a "Greatest Hits" of the Civil Rights movement that's very superficial and nothing new.

    I'm hoping that future drafts address these issues. Has the potential to be a powerful story.

  • CareyCarey | March 7, 2012 12:39 PM

    @ MFA, you get one of my "Most Sensible Comments" of the week award. I loved your comment because you qualified it. You said you read the script! I believe most folks know that I was being factious in my comments below. Yep, I was one of the few on this board who supported and thoroughly enjoyed The Help. In fact, I enjoyed and appreciated every movie I mentioned. Anyway, your comment made a whole lot of sense... give the man ( Mr. Allen) a pair. It's safe to assume Mr. Allen did not go through his day with his head hanging down, nor did he enjoy everything about his job. So it would be nice to see a complex range of his emotions, not just the passive side. Now don't get me wrong, I am difinitely not in the crowd of those who scream "LOOK HOW "THEY" (white folks) MAKE "US" LOOK". Nope!/Not!/never been there. Listen, I've said this many times, if a person; white, black, brown or red, comes to a conclusion about a specific race or person based upon what they saw in a movie (A DAMN MOVIE!), that person is an idiot from the jump, and well below the curve. Consequently, why should I, or anyone, respect or worry about anything that fool (who must live in a cave or on the moon) has to say? Their opinion is baseless. Come on now, in fact, I have more disdain for black folks who use the above rally cry than I do racists and bigots. Look, I understand the root of racism and bigotry, but... but some of my people seem to be running from a ghost. That's right, the big bad boogie man is still alive :-)

  • Miles Ellison | March 6, 2012 11:33 PMReply

    So which president gets the doo doo pie?

  • Nadine | March 6, 2012 11:52 PM

    ...I just burst out laughing.

  • CareyCarey | March 6, 2012 10:12 PMReply

    Listen, you have to give it to white folks, they brought pimpin' to town and the beat goes on. Lets see, they gave us The Help and "we" got an Oscar. And we can't forget Forrest Whitaker's part as the brutal cannibalistic Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and "we" got an Oscar. And who can forget Morgan Freeman driving that old white women? And again, "we" got an Oscar. So here we are in 2012 with the new version of Uncle Tom's Cabin. I mean, we're talking about the White House and maybe Mr. Eugene Allen wasn't an Uncle Tom, but I'd bet my last nickel he was not sitting with those presidents listening to James Brown's "I'm Black and I'm Proud" nor Aretha Franklin's "Respect". Come on now, can't you just see him standing around a corner (like Viola did in The Help) as Nixon and his boys told nigger jokes? And everybody knows Lyndon Johnson was a redneck. I wonder if they will have a scene in which Mr Allen opened the back door for Marilyn Monroe? You know ol'Johnny boy was hittin' that in the broom closet. Yeah, come to think of it, I think a better movie would be "The Secret Diary of The Presidents Butler!". I'd pay money to see that. I can picture a scene in which the Butler is seen easedropping on the good ol'boy while they called him Bojangles. And then, in the next scene we'd see them trying to persuade him to do a little tap dance. But then, after he refused their invitation, we'd see him dance into the room holding a trey of frosted Martini. But reminiscent of Octavia Butler's pie scene in The Help, unbeknownst to the big bad wolfs, Mr Allen stuck his dick in every glass and wiggled it around the rim and farted in the salad. Yes sir, I wanna see THAT movie :-)

  • CareyCarey | March 7, 2012 1:34 AM

    Opps, you're right JD, I have to be more careful. But hey, Sergio does it all the time (screws-up) so don't get mad at the players. Anyway, thanks Nadine, I had a heap of fun doing that play. And my momma thought it was the best thing since store bought jelly. She was so thrilled that she bought 50 pies to feed the guest for the next 3 nights. Sure did, she's 85yrs young. It was surely a labor of love. Now, one more again with a scene from the original series HERE---> http://careycarey-carrymehome.blogspot.com/

  • JD | March 7, 2012 12:52 AM

    Octavia SPENCER not Octavia Butler. Please let the revolutionary, groundbreaking sister rest in peace and not be compared to the other or caught up in THIS mess.

  • Nadine | March 6, 2012 11:53 PM

    CAREYCAREY - You are out of control. I saw your videos. Too cute. Very proud of you.

  • FilmGuy | March 6, 2012 8:59 PMReply

    Mr. Whitaker, is that little golden statue really worth that much to you? How cute that a black man would be directing this nonsense as well. If a return to slavery is what they're pushing....I got dibs on house n*gga!

  • mantan | March 6, 2012 8:55 PMReply

    sounds about right....

  • HAQ | March 6, 2012 8:49 PMReply

    LMBAO... I hear the shamans of our ancestors laughing at the ignorance further descendants because of course they warned them what would happen in their arrogance.

  • Peggy | March 6, 2012 8:14 PMReply

    I thought we weren't supposed to be playing servants anymore?

  • Miles Ellison | March 6, 2012 7:26 PMReply

    Really?

  • Zemrag | March 6, 2012 7:20 PMReply

    Sickening, the entire project.

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