Weinstein Co. to Release Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' in U.S.

Forest Whitaker RED Pre-Grammy Party - P 2012
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Forest Whitaker RED Pre-Grammy Party - P 2012

The film stars Forest Whitaker and a long list of other big names including Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Alan Rickman, John Cusack and Robin Williams.

The Weinstein Co. has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Lee DanielsThe Butler, starring Forest Whitaker.

Written by Danny Strong, who picked up an Emmy on Sunday for his Game Change screenplay, and Daniels, the story is inspired by Wil Haygood’s Washington Post article about a black man who served as White House butler to eight presidents over three decades.

The Butler chronicles the dramatic changes that swept American society from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond and how those changes affected a man’s life and family.

The film, which recently began shooting in New Orleans, also stars Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Minka Kelly, Lenny Kravitz, Melissa Leo, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber and Robin Williams.

Pamela Oas Williams produced the film alongside the late Laura Ziskin, Daniels, Buddy Patrick and Cassian Elwes. Hilary Shor and Adam Merims executive produced. It is co-produced by David Jacobson.

“Lee tells stories in a way no one else does,” said Harvey Weinstein. “What struck me most about this story is the perspective it comes from, which in this case is the butler -- a man who was a fly on the wall for decades in the world’s most powerful home. It takes an unbelievable cast like the one that’s in place to do this story justice, and we are proud to be given the chance to share this story with the world.”

The deal was negotiated by TWC’s David Glasser and Andrew Kramer and by Schuyler Moore of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. CAA packaged the film and is handling North American sales along with Elwes. The film is being represented by IM Global for international sales.

“What moves me most about this man is his quiet nature, grace and unmatched perspective that comes from being in one place -- a very powerful one -- during what was arguably the period in American history that saw the most change,” said Daniels, whose most recent film The Paperboy premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, screened in Toronto this month and will be featured at the New York Film Festival.

The Butler is being financed by Windy Hill Pictures, Follow Through Productions, Salamander Media, Salloway Rubenstein Productions/Crystal City Entertainment, Earl W. Stafford, Starstream Films, Yogi Entertainment and Inner Media Capital.