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Posts tagged ‘Lee Daniels’

‘The Butler’ Snubbed by Golden Globes.

Image: 'The Butler' Snubbed by Golden Globes

By Lisa Barron

Lee Daniels’ controversial movie “The Butler” was dealt a major blow in Thursday’s Golden Globe nominations, being shut out in all categories.

The movie which had gone into the annual awards season as one of the favorites failed to get a single nod from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the host of the glitzy  showpiece.

The story of a black man from the south who served eight American presidents over three decades in the White House received nominations from the actors union on Wednesday for best ensemble, lead actor for Forest Whitaker and supporting actress for Oprah Winfrey.

“What the Screen Actors Guild giveth, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association taketh away,” film critic John Horn said in The Los Angeles Times.

The film, which opened this summer, earned mixed reviews and came under fire for its portrayal of former President Ronald Reagan as being racist, in part because he was not in favor of imposing economic sanctions on South Africa, and for casting Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. It grossed $116 million at the box office.

Making the decision more startling is that the Golden Globes has nominations for both dramatic movies and for musicals or comedies, doubling the amount of nominations of most other award shows.

The Foreign Press Association instead chose “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity,” “Captain Phillips,” “Rush,” and “Philomena” ahead of “The Butler,” in the dramatic category.

Following the Globe announcements at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, there were several startled responses to “The Butler” snub.

“Well, the HFPA was clearly not having this movie at all!” said New York magazine, adding, “Just a complete and total shutout across the board.”

“Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ was high on early lists, then fell back (and didn’t even make the American Film Institute’s Top 10 movies-of-the-year roster),” noted The New York Times.

Director Daniels revealed to The Hollywood Reporter last month that he initially had trouble getting financing for the film, which was based on a story by Washington Post reporter Wil Hargood, who tracked down then-89-year-old former White House butler Eugene Allen for a piece celebrating President Barack Obama’s election.

In that story, Allen fondly recalled first lady Nancy Reagan inviting him and his wife to a state dinner. “She said, ‘You and Helene are coming to the state dinner as guests of President Reagan and myself,” he told Hargood.

“I’m telling you! I believe I’m the only butler to get invited to a state dinner,” he grinned.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

‘Butler’ Director Daniels Admits Anger at White People.

Image: 'Butler' Director Daniels Admits Anger at White People

By Drew MacKenzie

Producer and director Lee Daniels stunned the audience at the Gotham Independent Film Awards Monday night by admitting that he “became angry at white people” while doing the research for his film “The Butler,” starring Forest Whitaker.

Daniels, a presenter at the New York event, which ostensibly kicks off the awards season, paid tribute to Whitaker’s performance in the hit film, noting that the actor helped him work though his anger, according to

“When I did research for ‘The Butler’ I became very angry at white people . . . It’s not funny what happened,” said Daniels, who wrote and directed the film.

“The lesson I learned when I did ‘The Butler’ was that Forest told me to keep my anger in, to not be a stereotypical angry black man. Because if I were angry and I saw racism, then it became real,” he said.

“I had to step above it and pretend it wasn’t there. How do you tell your 17-year-old son that you can’t go into a 7-Eleven because you’re African-American and a dude? But Forest helped me through that. He taught me a lot.”

Daniels’ movie is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, played by Whitaker, who worked as a butler in the White House for 34 years under eight presidents before resigning in 1986 during the Ronald Reagan presidency.

When the film was released this past summer, it drew strong criticism from somehistorians and former Reagan aides who said it went too far in portraying the former president as racially insensitive.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Michael Reagan: ‘The Butler’ Disparages Memory of Ronald Reagan.

Image: Michael Reagan: 'The Butler' Disparages Memory of Ronald Reagan

Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan and Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan in a scene from “Lee Daniels‘ The Butler.”

By Courtney Coren

Former President Reagan‘s administration is currently on display in the new movie “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” where the 40th president is portrayed as a racist because he was in favor of lifting economic sanctions against South Africa.

“My father was not a racist, but the whole story … is really a bogus story,” says his son and Newsmax contributor Michael Reagan in an exclusive Newsmax interview.

Reagan said the movie, which supposedly is based on the life of Eugene Allen, who worked as a butler in the White House for 34 years, is filled with inaccuracies for the purpose of disparaging his father’s name.

Story continues below video.


“Eugene Allen — whom I knew, by the way — is a guy who comes from segregated Virginia, gets a job at the White House, works there 34 years, retires in 1986.

“The story in the movie about Cecil Gaines, he was born and raised in Georgia, his mother was raped, his father was shot, he got a job at the White House, then he quit the White House to join a protest against America and what’s going on in Vietnam and race, which is the farthest from the truth about Eugene Allen,” Reagan explains.

“You could have done a movie just about Eugene Allen and it would have been a great movie about somebody working at the White House. But instead, Hollywood decided they want to make this about Ronald Reagan and disparage Ronald Reagan and others, and did the same thing to Eugene Allen’s wife. To sit there and take his wife, make her an alcoholic, as Oprah Winfrey did, and have her have an affair with the neighbor is outrageous.

“I hope people who go see it don’t believe it’s a true story. Once again, it’s a fictionalized account of a true person at the White House, but it’s written and directed by a person who, in fact, has another agenda, and that’s to disparage the memory of Ronald Reagan.”

The son of the 40th president adds that it was his father — “that ‘racist’ Ronald Reagan” — who signed the law that gave us Martin Luther King Day. “People have forgotten that,” he said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

VFW to Jane Fonda Foes: ‘Don’t See Butler’.

Image: VFW to Jane Fonda Foes: 'Don't See Butler'

By Jennifer G. Hickey

The selection of Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels‘ movie “The Butler” has sparked a backlash among military veterans who cannot forgive her for her actions during the Vietnam War.

“We’re telling people that if you don’t like Jane Fonda, don’t go see the movie,” Joe Davis, of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, told Newsmax.


Fonda gained the nickname “Hanoi Jane” in 1972 when she visited enemy territory in North Vietnam and was photographed sitting on top of an anti-aircraft battery.

“There are some veterans who can never forget and some who can never forgive Jane Fonda for what they saw as her treasonous actions during the Vietnam War. That anger is only deepened by her playing the wife of someone who they continue to hold in high esteeem,” says a representative of a veteran’s organization who spoke on background with Newsmax.

The official said veterans respect Reagan as an individual who “built the issue [of POWs] from zero during his time as governor and then made it a priority when he was elected president.”

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“Some will never see one of her movies because they do not want a nickel or dime going to her,” the official said.

Some protests have been launched on Facebook pages, such as “The Butler Boycott,” which urges a boycott of the movie “to let Hollywood know what you think about Jane Fonda acting as Nancy Reagan.”

Another Facebook page – “Boycott Hanoi Jane Playing Nancy Reagan” – has over 30,000 “likes,” and says it’s “time for vets and Americans to band together to make a statement and to educate some of the younger generation about who Hanoi Jane Fonda really is.”

Rather than try to tamper down the criticism, Fonda has inflamed passions over her casting as the first lady.

In April, Fonda said veterans should “get a life” after hearing about the planned boycott of the movie and last month she wore a “Hanoi Jane” T-shirt during a film promotion.

Reagan historian Craig Shirley told Newsmax that Fonda “was definitely cast to push buttons, there was no doubt about it. They chose her specifically to get people talking about it, happily, or, in the case of a lot of conservatives, unhappily.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ed Meese to Newsmax: ‘Butler’ Movie Wrong to Portray Reagan as Racist.

By Andrea Billups

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III says the portrayal of President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy as racially insensitive in the new movie “The Butler” is not accurate.

Meese has joined with other supporters of Reagan who have been angered with the film’s claim that Reagan was indifferent to South Africa’s apartheid and the producer’s decision to have liberal Jane Fonda offer an unflattering portrayal of Nancy Reagan.

“Ronald Reagan did not have a racially discriminatory bone in his body from his very youngest days,” Meese told Newsmax. “He was opposed to any type of discrimination or mistreatment of anyone on the basis of race, or quite frankly any other innate characteristic.”

Meese said the true Ronald Reagan “treated everyone extremely well, including people who were in a position of assisting him in one way or other.”

“His whole administration was particularly loved by the people who worked in the White House and who served several administrations,” said Meese, who was a gubernatorial aide to Reagan in Sacramento before coming to the White House following the 1980 presidential election. “He was always very polite, very accommodating and very much interested in them personally.”

Meese, who currently serves as the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus at The Heritage Foundation, said he has not seen the film, but from what he has heard about the movie, the portrayal seems unfair.

“I think it is important for any president to be accurately portrayed, whether it is in books, in films or on TV. Any disparagement or unfair treatment by a film like this is unfortunate,” Meese said.

Director Lee Daniels’ new film is heating up the summer box office — opening this weekend at No. 1 and earning $25 million for the Weinstein Co.– but a growing number of Reagan supporters say they are hot over the film’s dishonest portrayal of the conservative president’s record on race.

Grove City College Professor Paul Kengor, a Reagan biographer, sparked a backlash last week against the film’s “ideologically driven fiction,” dubbing it “Hollywood malpractice,” even as others were mentioning the story of a White House butler who served eight presidents as a possible Oscar contender.

“The screenwriter and makers of this film better have some hard evidence for this. I hope they have at least some quotes somewhere from the butler saying he felt like a prop,” Kengor told the Hollywood Reporter. “If they don’t, then they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Since then, other Reagan book authors, associates and conservatives have stepped up to defend Reagan, calling the portrayal a cheap shot against a president they said consistently spoke out for equality.

Craig Shirley, a conservative public relations executive who wrote two Reagan books and is at work on several others, took issue with the film Monday saying it lacked context and  was inaccurate, particularly in its discussion of the apartheid debate.

Shirley said to Fox News that Reagan’s views on South Africa must be judged in the context of the Cold War.

“The sanctions would have hurt the least affluent among the South Africans at the time, who were the blacks there,” Shirley said. “The Zulu tribe, representing 6 million blacks, was vehemently opposed to the sanctions… When Mandela came to power, one of the first things he asked for were the sanctions to be lifted. So it’s a very complex issue and they present it [in the film] in a very simplistic fashion.”

Meese agreed.

“Certainly as president, in terms of dealing with apartheid, he was absolutely opposed to apartheid,” Meese told Newmax. “He had some concern about the sanctions that were in place because of what it would do generally in terms of our position on the Cold War. But also he was concerned about the impact economic sanctions would have on the people of South Africa, including those people who happen to be people of color.”

“The Butler” is based on the life of Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House from 1952 to 1986, serving eight presidents before his retirement.

The screenplay was written by Danny Strong, who wrote HBO’s 2008 TV film, “Recount,” as well as HBO’s “Game Change,” about the 2012 presidential campaign. That movie was drubbed by many on the right as a hit piece against former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Knowing the history of the film’s creators, “you have to go to motive,” Shirley said.

“The screenwriter for this movie did write ‘Game Change,’ which was grossly unfair to Sarah Palin. He also wrote ‘Recount,’ which again a lot of people thought was a retelling of the history of the recount that made the George Bush forces look very devious and the (Al) Gore forces look good,” said Shirley. “You do have to go motive with Hollywood and movies.”

Film critic Christian Toto, an assistant editor at Breitbart News, said Strong is “a dedicated liberal fellow, and he puts his politics into his work. Certainly this is not a surprise.”

The film’s cast would also not endear it to the right, Toto added. “Lee Daniels stocked his film with some very aggressively left figures, from Jane Fonda to John Cusack, which is like poking a hornet’s nest.”

The movie also stars Forest Whittaker in the title role of the butler and Oprah Winfrey in the memorable role of his boozy wife.

Prior to the Reagan flap, the movie earned the disdain of veterans with the casting of Fonda as Nancy Reagan.

Fonda defended that she was playing the first lady as a human being and said she knew Nancy Reagan was “not unhappy” with her casting, even as some military veterans recalled her criticism of the nation during the Vietnam War, which earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.” Some have planned protests against her and the film.

Toto said there is a need to set the factual record straight because “movies shape popular culture and popular culture shapes opinion.”

“The real life butler had a picture of Reagan in his living room, but the film portrays him as being disillusioned with Reagan and quitting that job because of the disillusionment,” which is totally at odds with the truth, Toto said.

That butler, Eugene Allen, also was the first to be invited to attend a White House state dinner with his wife, as a guest of Reagan, showing a relationship that seems at odds with the one the film depicts.

Toto says it’s a lot more than a fictional historical study, which is why friends of Reagan are rising up.

“It’s not sort of a policy debate but it’s capturing him in away that makes him appear if not racist, very insensitive to the suffering of people, and that is a thing people have been hammering those on the right about now for years,” he said.

“It’s a cudgel the left uses against the right. When you critique someone as racist, it’s very powerful and it is effective, but it’s soul killing. I think that’s a theme that really rankles people on the right and deservedly so.”

The movie is unlikely to besmirch Reagan’s reputation as Meese noted that Reagan is one of America’s most-beloved figures.

“Ronald Reagan is actually beloved by most people, whether conservative or not. In poll after poll he has shown he is one of the most popular people in history across the political spectrum,” Meese said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan Rankles Vets; ‘The Butler’ Protests Underway.

Jane Fonda’s turn as Nancy Reagan in the new film “The Butler” is angering veterans across the country, and “Hanoi Jane” isn’t doing much to help the situation.

An infamously vocal liberal, Fonda sparked controversy in 1972 when she visited enemy territory in North Vietnam and was photographed sitting on top of an anti-aircraft battery. That picture and her opposition to the war — she was once quoted calling American soldiers murderers — earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.”

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Now, veterans are outraged that “Hanoi Jane” is playing Nancy Reagan, beloved wife of staunch military supporter and conservative President Ronald Reagan, in Lee Daniels‘ “The Butler.” Many veterans’ groups are picketing the film outside at their local movie theaters.

“I was outraged that [the makers of the film] would do stunt casting and have this traitor to our nation be cast portraying someone so honorable,” Larry Reyes, a 20-year Navy veteran who lives in South Carolina, told “‘Hanoi Jane’ should not make one penny in our nation, one she has betrayed.”

“After spending two and a half years in the country over there and witnessing her treasonous actions, I think [her part in the movie] is a gross insult to a very fine, conservative, elegant woman,” Vietnam veteran H.L. Bryant of Kansas told

Fonda, 75, said she expected her casting to ruffle a few feathers.

“I know people say, ‘Oh my gosh, Jane Fonda is playing Nancy Reagan,'” she told reporters while promoting the film last month. “But I don’t think that whatever difference there might be in our politics really matters. As an actor, I approach her as a human being. I happen to know that she’s not unhappy that I’m playing her.”

But the Academy Award winner isn’t exactly doing all she can to alleviate the controversy.

According to a Fox News report from April, Fonda said veterans should “get a life” after hearing about the planned boycott of the movie. She reportedly said she knew her role would “tweak the right. Who cares?”

She also wore a “Hanoi Jane” T-shirt during a press junket last month to promote the film, according to the New York Post. 

“The Butler” tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a White House butler who served eight presidents. It opened in theaters over the weekend.

On Friday, leading Reagan historian Craig Shirley took issue with the depiction of the former First Lady in the movie.

“She (Fonda) was definitely cast to push buttons, there was no doubt about it,” Shirley told Newsmax. “They chose her specifically to get people talking about it ‹ happily, or, in the case of a lot of conservatives, unhappily.”

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Here is a clip of Fonda playing Reagan in “The Butler”:

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Alexandra Ward

New White House ‘Butler’ Film Criticizes Reagan.

A biographer of former President Ronald Reagan said some scenes in “Lee Daniels‘ The Butler” may amount to what he describes as “Hollywood malpractice” if they turn out to be based on anything other than facts.

Paul Kengor, who wrote two books about the late president: “The Crusader” and “God and Ronald Reagan,” took particular issue with a scene in which Nancy Reagan invites White House butler Cecil Gaines and his wife to a dinner party only for the couple to feel out of place, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The screenwriter and makers of this film better have some hard evidence for this,” Kengor told the publication. “I hope they have at least some quotes somewhere from the butler saying he felt like a prop. If they don’t, then they should be ashamed of themselves. If they don’t, then this is Hollywood malpractice.”

Other biographers of the nation’s 40th president have also slammed the film, which opened widely on Friday and is based on the story of Eugene Allen, an African American who worked at the White House for more than three decades, from 1952-1986. He is named Gaines in the film, a role that is played by Forrest Whitaker.

Kengor also told the Reporter that the film appears to depict President Reagan as racially insensitive and indifferent to apartheid.

“Ronald Reagan was appalled by apartheid, but also wanted to ensure that if the apartheid regime collapsed in South Africa that it wasn’t replaced by a Marxist-totalitarian regime allied with Moscow and Cuba that would take the South African people down the same road as Ethiopia, Mozambique, and, yes, Cuba,” Kengor said. “Clearly, blacks in South Africa lost rights under apartheid, but Communism was a far greater infringement . . . In Communist nations, people were literally lined up and slaughtered — and starved — on mass scales. Has everyone forgotten this?”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Paul Scicchitano

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