A first look at The Butler and the staff that Lee Daniels assembled including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey in her first film since 1998′s Beloved, and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan which raised plenty of eyebrows and rankles last year. The film tells the story of Eugene Allen (Whitaker), who served eight commanders in chief during his 1952-1986 stint as the White House butler. Daniels wrote the screenplay with Danny Strong, based on Wil Haygood’s 2008 article in The Washington Post. The Weinstein Company releases the drama on October 18:
Colman Domingo has joined The Butler and will play a White House butler who works in the Executive Mansion in the Lee Daniels-directed film. The Butler, which starts shooting later this month in New Orleans, is based on the life …
Millennium Entertainment will release Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy theatrically on October 5, the distributor announced today. The erotic thriller stars Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray and John Cusack. The screenplay was …
Some press and critics at the Cannes Film Festival are already having a field day hurling invectives (a favorite pastime here) against The Paperboy, director Lee Daniels’ first film since his Oscar-nominated work on Precious. This one is based on a well-regarded book by Pete Dexter, who wrote the screenplay with Daniels. It’s about a man (Zac Efron) who tries to help his journalist brother (Matthew McConaughey) investigate the possible wrongful conviction of a man on death row (John Cusack). Nicole Kidman co-stars as a Southern tart who likes her men behind bars and singer Macy Gray is the maid in this 1960′s civil rights era-set wallow that takes place mostly in Florida swamp country (but shot in Louisiana).
At Tuesday morning’s buyers screening and today after the first press screening, reactions seem to be vivid. One critic said “it could be so bad it’s good”. Another compared it to the kind of exploitation pictures Roger Corman regularly turned out. For me, it’s one of those movies that is just dripping with Southern sweat and sleaze — you can smell the place. If it’s an over-the-top wallow into the Deep Deep South of the period, it’s a fun one. You either go with it or you don’t. Tennessee Williams this is not, but it’s fascinating material on many levels and all these actors took a kind of risk and just jumped in without a life preserver; they didn’t do this indie for the money. Avi Lerner’s Millennium and Nu Image produced and the film is up for distribution, as Deadline previously reported, although Lerner could decide to distribute it himself if the deal isn’t right. One top distrib who was at Tuesday’s screening told me they didn’t care for Paperboy, while at least two others said the complete opposite. With a starry cast, exploitable subject matter and scenes already being tweeted all over the place — Kidman peeing on Efron to relieve his jellyfish stings is getting lots of action on the net and the Croisette — in the end it may not matter what any of the auteur-mad critics here have to say. Unlike Precious this is not really a critics kind of movie. It is in fact the commercially oriented Millennium’s first competition entry ever.
EXCLUSIVE: Blossom Films partners Nicole Kidman and Per Saari are reuniting with their Rabbit Hole co-producers at Olympus Films to option screen rights to the bestselling Kevin Wilson novel The Family Fang. They will develop the project as a starring vehicle for Kidman, who got a Best Actress nomination for Rabbit Hole. Olympus partners Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech will produce with Kidman and Saari.
The book is about a couple of performance artists who routinely sucked their kids into taking part in a variety of bizarre events. When the full grown children return home in a state of crisis, they are unwittingly enlisted to help in the execution of a daring and mysterious final performance by their parents, who are hellbent on achieving the act of a lifetime. Their kids harbor more than a little resentment and blame the performance art for how badly their own lives have turned out. Wilson is a first-time novelist, but he previously published the short story collection Tunneling To The Center Of The Earth, and Alan Ball optioned Grand Stand-In from that collection. Besides Rabbit Hole, Kidman’s Blossom produced Monte Carlo for Fox, and is developing the Simon Kinberg-scripted The Eighth Wonder at Fox, Little Bee for BBC Films and separately working on a biography of singer Dusty Springfield and remakes of the Colombian thriller Spectre and Love Pain and the Whole Damn Thing.
Showtime Developing Drama Series About Little-Known LGBT Subculture With Merritt Johnson & Lee Daniels
EXCLUSIVE: Temple Grandin writer W. Merritt Johnson has teamed with Precious director Lee Daniels for a drama project in development at Showtime that sheds light on a little-known LGBT subculture. The contemporary drama, which Johnson is writing and Daniels is attached to direct, is set in New York City and centers on the disenfranchised multicultural transgender youth of the Ball subculture, previously portrayed in Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning. Some say the roots of the New York ball house culture can be traced to the 1930s,when the first underground drag balls were held in and around New York City by white men in gay bars, while others argue that it evolved out of the Harlem ballroom scene in the 1960s. Today’s underground ball house society consists of New York City’s disadvantaged black, Latino, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual communities who come together to compete for trophies and prizes. They all belong to different fraternity-like “houses,” or “drag families,” that serve as surrogate families for their members banded together under one leader. Their “voguing” dance style, in which competitors freeze to pose in glamorous positions, was re-created in Madonna’s Vogue video. Johnson and Daniels are executive producing.