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Ugh: 'Precious' Director Lee Daniels To Remake Fellini's 'Nights of Cabiria'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist December 7, 2010 at 1:54AM

It's no secret that we weren't big fans of Lee Daniels' "Hard To Watch: Based On The Book 'Stone Cold Bummer' By Manipulate" "Precious: Based On The Book 'Push' By Sapphire" here. The film was admittedly chock-full of excellent performances, particularly the Oscar-winning Mo'nique and lead Gabourey Sidibe, but the movie was irredeemably manipulative, and showed, in Daniel's work, perhaps the directorial effort least deserving of an Oscar nomination in history -- unfocused, garish and showy.
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It's no secret that we weren't big fans of Lee Daniels' "Hard To Watch: Based On The Book 'Stone Cold Bummer' By Manipulate" "Precious: Based On The Book 'Push' By Sapphire" here. The film was admittedly chock-full of excellent performances, particularly the Oscar-winning Mo'nique and lead Gabourey Sidibe, but the movie was irredeemably manipulative, and showed, in Daniel's work, perhaps the directorial effort least deserving of an Oscar nomination in history -- unfocused, garish and showy.

Nevertheless, the film's success has seen the producer/director's stock rise, and he's been linked to a number of projects over the year. The main contender seemed to be civil rights drama "Selma," which had Hugh Jackman, Cedric the Entertainer, David Oyelowo and Liam Neeson attached, but the funding never came together, and, while the project is still in development, it looks unlikely that it'll happen any time soon. Overnight, a story on Deadline about the director signing to agency CAA confirms that, as long rumored, his next project looks to be "The Butler," a Denzel Washington vehicle about an African-American servant in the White House. But there's also a nasty little surprise in the story...

The site also reports that a deal is closing to attach Daniels to a remake of Federico Fellini's 1957 classic "Night of Cabiria." That's right. Lee Daniels. Doing Fellini. Let that settle in for a moment. Try not to have an aneurysm.

If you're unfamiliar with the original (and it's one of Fellini's best films, so you should correct that as soon as you can), it stars Fellini's wife, the incomparable Giulietta Masina, as a naive prostitute in Rome, consistently betrayed by the men in her life. You can catch up with a trailer below. There's no further news about the project, although it's being put together by WME.

It's not that we're against the idea of a remake in principle -- Fellini's film was, after all the basis for Bob Fosse's classic musical "Sweet Charity," which took a very different approach, but still worked out. The problem here is that whoever's involved seems to have worked and long and hard to find the worst possible director that they could have hired for the material: "Nights of Cabiria" would seem to play to Daniels' worst excesses, if "Precious" is any indication.

Aside from "The Butler" and "Selma," the director's also been linked recently to a film version of the Kander & Ebb musical "The Scottsboro Boys" -- he's a busy man, so we hope and pray that the Fellini remake is just a bad idea that never gets beyond a couple of meetings. But if not, then we nervously await the announcement of the McG remake of "La Dolce Vita," and the other two horsemen of the apocalypse.

This article is related to: Films, Lee Daniels, '50s Films, Nights Of Cabiria


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