The 'Butler' Battle: MPAA Appeal Hearing Set for Friday
The Weinstein Co. will make another bid Friday to secure the title The Butler for its upcoming Lee Daniels-directed movie, as it takes its case to an appeal hearing of the MPAA’s Title Registration Bureau.
The appeal is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 19 at the MPAA’s offices in Sherman Oaks.
In its original ruling July 2, the TRB ruled against The Weinstein Co., finding it had no right under TRB rules to use the title, which also belongs to a 1916 short film that is now part of the Warner Bros. library. TWC was told to stop promoting the movie, which opens Aug. 16, under the title The Butler or face fines of $25,000 a day.
Although TRB also ruled TWC could not use the word “butler” in any alternative title, TWC had earlier registered Lee Daniels’ The Butler as an alternative title, setting the stage for a possible solution to the standoff. Behind the scenes, according to sources, Warners has proposed possible ways to resolve the issue to TWC, which has not yet responded to the proposals.
TWC has continued to use the title and enlisted attorney David Boies, who fired off letters to the MPAA and Warners threatening a restraining order and making an antitrust violation claim. A Warners attorney responded to Boies by accusing TWC of a “disturbing pattern and practice of flagrant [Title Registration Bureau] rules violations."
The movie, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, is based on the life Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler through eight administrations.