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Lee Daniels Thought About Putting Barack Obama In 'The Butler' & Casting Oprah Winfrey As A Serial Killer

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 19, 2013 4:47 PM
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  • 2 Comments
While Lee Daniels hasn't been shy about his expressing his feelings that "The Butler" represents of something of a compromise of his vision in order to deliver a PG-13 cut to theaters, that's not to say the director doesn't continue to think far outside the usual box. In an interview with the New York Times the filmmaker reveals that he was toying with the idea of taking his movie — which spans decades of American history, and includes appearances by President Nixon, JFK and Ronald Reagan — and telling the story right up to the present day.

Lee Daniels Talks The Ratings Struggles Of 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' And A Musical Remake Of 'Nights of Cabiria'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 13, 2013 4:00 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Lee Daniels is used to a good fight. He had to fight perceptions of his first film, “Shadowboxer,” in order to make “Precious: Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire.” He had to fight for the right to direct “The Paperboy,” a project that had switched hands amongst filmmakers as lauded as Pedro Almodovar. But nothing could have prepared him for the ratings fight that greeted him in regards to his new film, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

Review: 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • August 9, 2013 8:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The Butler Forest Whitaker Cuba Gooding Jr.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is nothing if not full of sincerity and effort. Which is why it’s so entirely confusing why they cast former teen heartthrob John Cusack as hangdog Richard Nixon. He’s fallen from his “Say Anything” days (and even the highs of “High Fidelity”), but this is maybe the worst casting we’ve seen in a major Hollywood film since Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist. Having Robin Williams play Dwight Eisenhower comes a close second, and Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson isn’t much better. The decades-spanning drama tries so hard to create a moving, seemingly accurate look at the titular character’s time spent on the staff at the White House during turbulent times that these missteps stand out particularly strongly, especially when compared to lookalike contest winners James Marsden’s JFK and Alan Rickman’s Ronald Reagan.

Watch: 2 Clips & 30-Minute Q&A For 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Plus Lots Of New Pics From The Film

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 2, 2013 9:30 AM
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  • 2 Comments
From an assassin drama in "Shadowboxer," to a grim tale of inner city life with "Precious," to a swampy Southern potboiler with "The Paperboy," Lee Daniels hasn't been one to stick to a traditional path. However, his forthcoming "Lee Daniels' The Butler" does find his ambitions reaching a whole new height with probably his biggest story to date. And with the movie coming to theaters, a few new peeks have arrived for the film.

The Weinstein Company Loses 'The Butler' Battle, Faces Heavy Fines & Must Amend Title

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 22, 2013 12:37 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Call it The Movie Formerly Known As "The Butler." With just a few weeks to go before the ensemble, historical drama hits theaters, The Weinstein Company is being forced to toss out their marketing materials, change the name of the movie, and pay some heavy fines after they've now (mostly) lost their battle with Warner Bros. over the title.

Ava DuVernay To Direct Former Lee Daniels' Martin Luther King Movie 'Selma,' David Oyelowo Still Attached In Lead Role

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 11, 2013 4:30 PM
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  • 2 Comments
With Lee Daniels tackling a large swath of American history and racial politics in one fell swoop with this upcoming "The Butler"-or-insert-new-title-here, perhaps he already scratched his Civil Rights itch. In fact, back in 2010, he had already said he wasn't keen on doing two movies about the same subject back-to-back. If you remember, he was once slated to direct the Martin Luther King drama "Selma," and it was oh so promising. Had it come together the historical drama would've looked something like this: David Oyelowo playing Martin Luther King, Hugh Jackman signed up as Sheriff Jim Clark, Liam Neeson portraying Lyndon Johnson; Robert De Niro attached to star as racist governor George Wallace; Cedric The Entertainer was set to play minister and activist Ralph Abernathy while Lenny Kravitz was also on board as activist Andrew Young. Well, financing didn't arrive and it all fell apart but the project is now mounting again with a new face leading the way.

Watch: First Trailer For Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' Starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard & Much More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 7, 2013 7:28 PM
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  • 22 Comments
The Butler, Forest Whitaker
Talk around "Precious" and "The Paperboy" director Lee Daniels' next effort "The Butler" has ranged from the director himself comparing it to a work-for-hire gig, calling it a "big compromise" from his usually more button pushing fare to Terrence Howard talking about his co-star Oprah Winfrey's "tig ol' bitties" (yes, that's how he said it). But enough talk, what does the final result look like? Well, here you go...

David Oyelowo Talks The '70s Influences Of 'Jack Reacher,' Says Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' Is 'Forrest Gump'-Esque

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • December 21, 2012 12:24 PM
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  • 1 Comment
David Oyelowo is one of those actors who has had a very, very good year. He started off 2012 by being a part of George Lucas' World War II epic "Red Tails," made a splash with the Cannes debut of Lee Daniels' pulpy "The Paperboy," and is closing out the year with two high-profile performances – he can be seen briefly at the start of Steven Spielberg's beloved "Lincoln" and stars as one of the heavies in the hotly anticipated "Jack Reacher," where he stars alongside Tom Cruise in the first adaptation of Lee Child's wildly popular book series.

Janis Joplin Biopic Starring Amy Adams Back On, Lee Daniels To Direct

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 16, 2012 11:26 PM
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  • 15 Comments
The year was 2010, and at the time Amy Adams was attached to play famed rocker Janis Joplin with "City Of God" helmer Fernando Meirelles to helm. Or that was at least the plan. And then there was nothing heard again about a biopic until earlier this year when "Martha Marcy May Marlene" helmer Sean Durkin signed up for "Joplin" with Nina Arianda in the lead role. And now, there is some fierce competition from Adams, as her movie is back moving, not only eyeing a similar start date but bringing a name director along with it.

Lee Daniels Says 'The Butler' The Closest He's Come To Doing "Work-For-Hire," Calls It "A Big Compromise"

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 5, 2012 10:17 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If you can say anything about Lee Daniels, it's that he's got a distinct voice. Whether it always works is another topic entirely, but over the course of the three films now -- "Shadowboxer" (which got a great Commentary Of The Damned feature at the AV Club), awards horse "Precious" and the pulpy, divisive "The Paperboy" -- he has made pictures that are completely his own. But it seems that his next effort, "The Butler," which boasts yet another star-studded ensemble, will see the director dialing it back a bit.

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