2013 Gotham Awards: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ ‘Fruitvale Station,’ ‘Short Term 12,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club’; Lee Daniels Talks Racism: “I Became Very Angry At White People”

IFP's 23nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards - ShowThe Coen brothersInside Llewyn Davis won Best Feature tonight at the fourth annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards but lost some of the spotlight to presenter Lee Daniels, who made some eyebrow-raising remarks. Kicking off awards season in NYC, the trophy show propelled the CBS period folk music drama and Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, and docu The Act of Killing toward the Oscars. The raucous audience at Cipriani Wall Street chattered so loudly during Daniels’ tribute speech his The Butler star Forest Whitaker that he tried to shush them with a few f-bombs. Gotham Awards 2013“Forest would like to hear all you talking through my speech, so shut the f*ck up,” admonished Daniels. He wasn’t the only presenter to complain onstage about the Gothams crowd, as Julie Delpy threatened to set herself on fire to get their attention while presenting another tribute, to Before Midnight helmer Richard Linklater.

Jared Leto GothamsBig wins went to Fruitvale Station, which nabbed Best Breakthrough Director and Actor for Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, respectively. Dallas Buyers Club star and Oscar hopeful Matthew McConaughey won the Gothams’ inaugural Best Actor award and accepted via iPhone through co-star Jared Leto with his signature “All right, all right, all right.” Short Term 12‘s Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress honors, boosting the SXSW winner’s awards profile. Presenting Best Documentary, Morgan Spurlock took a shot at public television (“PBS: We pay more money than IFC”) before presenting the Gotham to Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar hopeful The Act of Killing.

Related: OSCARS: An Early Look At The Best Picture Race – Frontrunners In A Crowded Field

Host Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League) struggled with the ambivalent room early on with a roast of the indie scene: “To the people from L.A. or abroad, I hope you’re enjoying your tiny hotel room you had to pay for out of pocket because Magnolia or IFC wouldn’t pony up.” Riffing on the night’s nominees, he quipped, “A common theme in this year’s movies are the horrors we inflict upon one another – slavery, war, folk music… .” Unfortunately for Kroll, he was upstaged by New York Mayor Bloomberg. “Independent filmmakers and New York have a lot in common… We both want Harvey Weinstein to be nice to us.” Boosting local filmmaking versus runaway production to neighboring Canada while presenting the tribute to his Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver, Bloomberg joked, “For the record: the mayor of Toronto and the mayor of New York do not have a lot in common.” Read More »

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The Contenders 2013: The Emotional Story Of How Laura Ziskin Fought To Get ‘The Butler’ Made Right Down To Her Dying Moments (Video)

By | Wednesday November 6, 2013 @ 10:53am PST
Pete Hammond

One of the most poignant moments to come out of last Saturday’s Deadline event THE CONTENDERS was the story relayed by screenwriter Danny Strong and co-producer Pam Williams demonstrating the late Laura Ziskin‘s unbridled  passion for getting Lee Daniels’ The Butler to the screen against all odds. As one of … Read More »

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‘The Butler’ Effect? ABC Eyes Limited Series About James Madison’s Slave Servant

By | Tuesday October 1, 2013 @ 2:37pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

A Slave In The White House TV Series ABCEXCLUSIVE: Following the success of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, ABC has put in development a limited series about another famous black White House servant. A Slave In Read More »

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Fox Lands Hip-Hop Drama From Brian Grazer & ‘Butler’ Team Of Lee Daniels & Danny Strong With Put Pilot Commitment

By | Thursday September 19, 2013 @ 12:41pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: The duo behind hit feature Lee Daniels’ The Butler writer Danny Strong and director Lee Daniels — are reuniting, this time in television. Strong and Daniels have been brought back together by … Read More »

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Labor Day: ‘The Butler’ Tops 4-Day Holiday After ‘One Direction’ Wins 3-Day Weekend

By | Monday September 2, 2013 @ 5:03am PDT

MONDAY 7 AM UPDATE: Lee Daniels’ The Butler from The Weinstein Company is the first film in 2013 to take #1 at the domestic box office for 3 straight weekends at this end of the 4-day Labor Day holiday. … Read More »

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Reagan’s Son, Obama Both Watched ‘The Butler’, Saw Different Films

By | Wednesday August 28, 2013 @ 8:19am PDT

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is “a bunch of lies,” says Ronald Reagan’s son, particularly in its portrayal of his father. “There you go again, Hollywood,” Michael Reagan wrote on the website Newsmax. “You’ve taken a great story about a real person and real events and twisted it into a bunch of lies. You took the true story of Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served eight presidents from 1952 to 1986, and turned it into a clichéd ‘message movie’.” President Reagan, played by Alan Rickman, is depicted as a racist, his son claimed. “[F]acts don’t matter to Hollywood’s creative propagandists. Truth is too complicated and not dramatic enough for scriptwriters, who think in minute terms, not the big picture, when it comes to a conservative…[M]y father didn’t see people in colors. He saw them as individual Americans,” Reagan wrote.

Related: ‘The Butler’ #1 Again At Box Office Read More »

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Oprah No Match For Orange County Housewives On ‘Watch What Happens Live’

Oprah did well by Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live when she made her first visit to the show Thursday night – but she’s no Orange County housewife. An average of 969,000 viewers watched Oprah visit Andy Cohen’s program as part of her march across the talk-show landscape, plugging… Read More »

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Oprah Winfrey Talks OWN Network, Failure, And Symptoms Of Her Nervous Breakdown

UPDATE FRIDAY 2 AM: Oprah is all about carefully controlling her image at all times. But not this week when she made the media rounds to promote her return to the big screen in Read More »

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Hot Clip: Jane Fonda As Nancy Reagan In ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’

By | Thursday July 25, 2013 @ 12:31pm PDT

“I thought it would be fun to play her,” says Jane Fonda of her turn as Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, glimpsed in a new clip from the Weinstein Co. pic. The casting sparked plenty of controversy last year when it was … Read More »

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TCA: OWN Orders Deion Sanders Reality Soap; Oprah To Chat With ‘The Butler’ Notables, Lohan Chat Date

By | Thursday July 25, 2013 @ 9:00am PDT

Oprah Winfrey Network has ordered a new docu-series about “the crazy and chaotic family life” of former NFL star Deion Sanders. The network also announced this morning the next crop of celebs sitting down with Oprah for her Next Chapter franchise. The reality docu-series about Sanders – described by OWN as “football legend, baseball great, broadcaster, Hall of Famer, international superstar, businessman, educator and father” – is called It’s Prime Time and will premiere in early ’14.

Oprah’s Next Chapter chatters in August include the cast of The Butler – a.k.a. Lee Daniel’s The Butler – will undergo the Next Chapter treatment on August 11. Oprah herself is in the movie about Cecil Gaines, who served as head butler at the White House under eight presidents. She will sit down with fellow cast members Forest Whitaker, who plays Gaines in the film, and with David Oyelowo, as well as director Lee Daniels. The movie is set to open on August 16. One week after her sit-down with The Butler notables, OWN will unveil Oprah’s much-ballyhooed TV tete-a-tete with Lindsay Lohan, who is looking for yet another career re-boot after the Lifetime Liz Taylor flick thing didn’t work out so well. Other upcoming Next Chapters will pair O with  Gloria Estefan and Tina Turner.

Today’s announcement: Read More »

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Weinstein Co Unveils New Poster For ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ To Comply With MPAA

By | Tuesday July 23, 2013 @ 10:21am PDT

Here’s the end result of the brouhaha over The Butler — rather, Lee Daniels’ The Butler. The Weinstein Co just released this poster for the Lee Daniels-directed historical drama, out August 16. It stars … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Weinstein Co. Can Title Its Movie ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’, If It Wants

By | Friday July 19, 2013 @ 7:40pm PDT

UPDATED, 8:07PM… Both sides are claiming victory — of course — in the battle over The Butler. As Deadline first reported Thursday and then updated this morning, the MPAA said tonight that its original ruling in the case went too far, and it has overturned the part that excluded the Weinstein Company from using the word “butler” in the title of its historical drama. The MPAA Appeals Board’s decision — read it here and decide for yourself — says TWC can use the word “butler” in the title, but all words in the title have to be of same size/prominence. If the company indeed decides to title the film Lee Daniels’ The Butler, though, “Lee Daniels” has to be 75% the size of “The Butler.” TWC has to pay $400,000 to the Entertainment Industry Foundation as sanctions for violating the July 2 award and must pay the charity $25,000 per day to for violating today’s award, which increases to $50,000 a day if they don’t issue new digital materials (trailers, TV ads, etc.) for the film by July 26 and new print materials by August. TWC also has to pay Warner Bros’ $150,000 in legal fees. Some background, for those who might have been on safari the past few weeks, after the jump: Read More »

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‘Butler’ Backers Petition MPAA Chief Chris Dodd As Title Fight Appeal Gets Underway

By | Friday July 19, 2013 @ 10:23am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The appeal by The Weinstein Company of an MPAA ruling denying them use of The Butler title is just getting underway, with Harvey Weinstein out to overturn that judgement. At the same time, the investors who backed the Lee Daniels-directed film have made a direct appeal to MPAA chief Chris Dodd. After Deadline broke the story of this title battle, it has kicked up a ruckus I never expected and perked up what is usually a fallow period for news. Some have claimed TWC has done this for publicity, others have claimed Warner Bros is being spiteful, with Weinstein even claiming the studio has tried to force him to surrender the 5% first dollar gross participation he holds in The Hobbit. Believe me, that ain’t never going to happen–that condition was part of the turnaround deal when New Line founder Bob Shaye agreed to back three Lord Of The Rings films, and if he hadn’t, Weinstein would have made one, maybe two LOTR installments, without writer/director Peter Jackson. That move has meant billions of dollars to Warner Bros and changed Hollywood history. Weinstein got 5% of all those films, and that gross payment is so valuable now with two more Hobbit installments coming that if push came to shove, TWC would retitle its Lee Daniels civil rights drama. Despite the sentimental appeals and harsh words between the studios, this all comes down to lawyer horse trading between two studios that will begin if today’s appeal doesn’t overturn the verdict and if TWC continues to abide by the MPAA Title Registry (it is not a signatory studio). Some have speculated that the film could go out with an alternative title like Lee Daniels’ The Butler, but it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. Here is the letter that the film’s financial backers just sent to Dodd: Read More »

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MPAA Schedules ‘The Butler’ Title Appeal Hearing

By | Thursday July 18, 2013 @ 1:00pm PDT

Harvey Weinstein will get his chance tomorrow to convince the MPAA to overturn their title ruling on The Butler. An appeal arbitration hearing has been set for 10 AM Friday in the Motion … Read More »

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Oscars: ‘Fruitvale Station’ Kicks Off Strongest Group Of African-American Contenders In Years

Pete Hammond

Last month the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences took great strides in order to bring more diversity to its membership. Now will that effort affect the actual Oscar race itself? Certainly this year distributors, particularly The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight, are going to be giving the Academy every opportunity to put some diversity into that race, especially in terms of a major African- American presence. Beginning with this Friday’s platformed Weinstein release of the widely acclaimed Sundance and Cannes award winner, Fruitvale Station there is a highly promising lineup of films that seriously depict the Black experience to be released in the second half of 2013. And I am not talking about Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.

This group of movies, which also includes the increasingly-controversial The Butler (8/16- Weinstein), 12 Years A Slave (10/18- Searchlight), Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom (11/29 – Weinstein), Black Nativity (11/27 – Searchlight), Blue Caprice starring Isaiah Washington (IFC – 9/13), the recently -released documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom (Radius-TWC) and (far less likely) even the long-delayed Winnie Mandela  (Image Entertainment) starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard now being released in September,  provide a bountiful opportunity to let the Academy show off its new spirit of diversity, not that they have been completely dormant in that area in recent years. Of course 2012′s Beasts Of The Southern Wild made the most recent Best Picture cut and won its 9 year old star Quvenzhane Wallis a Best Actress nomination. And  Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar winning Original Screenplay for another 2012 Best Pic nominee, Django Unchained  had a unique take on slavery. Two years ago the box office success of The Help  propelled it towards a Best Picture nomination and acting nods for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, the latter winning for Best Supporting Actress.  And just four years ago Precious won a couple of key Oscars for Supporting Actress Monique and screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher as well as Best Picture and Directing (for Lee Daniels) nominations. Read More »

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UPDATE: Warner Bros Weighs In Fully After ‘The Butler’ Battle Hits Morning TV: Video

By | Tuesday July 9, 2013 @ 9:04am PDT

UPDATE, 9:04 AM: CBS This Morning‘s hosts read part of Warner Bros‘ statement on the air but not all of it. Here it is in full:

The Weinstein Company, as the New York Times has noted, is

Read More »

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UPDATE: David Boies Charges Extortion As He Returns Fire In ‘The Butler’ Spat Between Warner Bros And The Weinstein Company

Mike Fleming

5TH EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Weinstein Company attorney David Boies has responded to the legal letter sent by Warner Bros legal affairs over their dispute regarding use of the title The Butler on the Lee Daniels-directed film. The letter is directed to John W. Spiegel, the Warner Bros-hired lawyer who fired off the last letter July 4. Here is the latest, as Boies makes the move to secure a restraining order as the legal maneuvering continues. He says that Warner Bros is holding hostage the civil rights film to “extort unrelated concessions from TWC.” This is getting nastier and nastier:

Dear Mr. Spiegel:

Although you do not directly respond to my inquiry, I assume that you are the counsel who should be notified in the event it is necessary to seek a TRO.

I will not try to respond to your version of the facts in part because it is so inaccurate and incomplete that such an exercise would be extensive, and in part because your letter appears to be a press release masquerading as a lawyer’s letter. However, I briefly note your lack of response to three critical points.

First, if an anticompetitive “permanent” allocation of titles (and words used in titles) among competitors is a product of a horizontal agreement, that is an antitrust violation, not a defense.

Second, the purported order that TWC not use titles that it has already cleared pursuant to the MPAA’s own rules and procedures demonstrates that it is Warner Bros. and the MPAA that are at odds with established custom, practice, and procedure.

Third, none of this controversy would have occurred if Warner Bros. had not repudiated its representations and agreements not to object to “The Butler” in a transparent attempt to hold a major civil rights film hostage to extort unrelated concessions from TWC.

Sincerely Yours,

David Boies

4th EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: The July 4th holiday didn’t stop the battle between The Weinstein Company and Warner Brothers over the title to The Butler. Attorneys for Warner Brothers yesterday sent a letter to TWC counsel David Boies in response to director Lee Daniels’ personal appeal to WB to back down on its demand for a title change. In the letter, WB attorney John Spiegel stands firm, calling TWC’s “cries of unfairness and its threats to sue Warner ..unproductive and unwarranted”. Sources tell Deadline that Daniels received a personal response from CEO Kevin Tsujihara yesterday. Warner Bros had no comment on the matter. You can read the complete letter below:

July 4, 2013

David Boies, Esq.
Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP
333 Main Street
Armonk, NY 10504

Re:The Weinstein Company/The Butler

Dear Mr. Boies:

We represent Warner Bros. Pictures (WBP) and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment (collectively, “Warner”). I write in response to your July 3, 2013 letter on behalf of The Weinstein Company’s (TWC). TWC’s cries of unfairness and its threats to sue Warner are unproductive and unwarranted responses to a situation that TWC alone has created.

Read More »

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Weinstein Company Moves Lee Daniels-Directed ‘The Butler’ To August 16 Slot

By | Friday May 10, 2013 @ 7:58pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Looking to stir up a bit of early Oscar buzz, The Weinstein Company has slotted the Lee Daniels-directed The Butler to an August 16 release date. It had been skedded for October 18. That slot … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’

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 … Read More »

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