Tag: “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

BHM: Let’s Honor Oprah! Entrepreneur, Media Maven, Philanthropist, Actor, Influencer… Genius

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Not many people on Earth have their names become synonymous with genius in their profession, let alone genius in general. Einstein, Shakespeare, Mozart, even Spielberg and Prince easily come to mind. Notably, they are all men, mostly White, and only one is known by his first name. But when you say, “Hey, where are the women? What women do you think of when someone says ‘Who are the geniuses?,'” an immediate response would (or should) be… Oprah.

It may seem like opinion, but I want to go on record that saying “Oprah Winfrey is a genius” is a fact, and one that should be touted widely. Oprah’s status as a cultural icon, media mogul and inspirational leader is taken as a given, but when you look back and reflect on her journey from rural poverty in Mississippi to global icon, you too will recognize how much intelligence, excellence and genius it took to get there and what’s more – stay there.

What follows below in regards to recognizable achievement, vision and success rightfully will only add credence to the “Oprah Winfrey is a genius” fact, but I submit that the secret sauce of Oprah’s claim to that title has been best articulated (and realized) by Oprah herself:

Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be, and to begin to honor that in the best way possible for yourself. – Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Gail Winfrey, originally named “Orpah” after the biblical figure in the Book of Ruth but had it misspelled and mispronounced so much that “Oprah”  stuck, recently celebrated her 65th birthday on January 29, 1954. Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, an unmarried teenage mother and housemaid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when Oprah was born.

According to wikipedia.org, Winfrey spent her first six years living with her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, who was so poor that Winfrey often wore dresses made of potato sacks, and the local children made fun of her. Her grandmother, ever in Oprah’s corner, taught her to read before the age of three and took her to church, where she was nicknamed “The Preacher” for her preternatural ability to recite Bible verses and command the stage.

Despite parental neglect from her mother, sexual abuse by family members from the age of nine, and the stillbirth of a son at age 14, Oprah’s intellect and ability to speak powerfully in public earned her a full ride to HBCU Tennessee State University on an Oratory Scholarship.

As Oprah honed her skills through education and experience, she became the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. Oprah then became an anchor in the larger market of Baltimore, MD before taking over the hosting position of low-rated AM Chicago in 1984.

Oprah aligned her talents, smarts, professionalism and relatability to catapult her over Phil Donahue’s long-venerated talk show Donahue for the top-rated slot. Oprah then wisely took advice from movie critic Roger Ebert to make a syndication deal with King World Media and have ownership in her program – the beginning of the Oprah brand.

The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted September 8, 1986 and topped daytime talk show ratings for 25 years until she retired from the show. Oprah really hit her stride and pinpointed her brand when she followed her instincts in the 1990s to shift away from “tabloid-style” shows to ones with a focus on literature, self-improvement, mindfulness and spirituality. Even though she briefly took a ratings dip during the change, she soared to the top again and outlasted several popular talk show hosts of the time such as Sally Jesse Raphael, Ricki Lake, Montel Williams, Donahue, Jenny Jones, and Jerry Springer. Continue reading “BHM: Let’s Honor Oprah! Entrepreneur, Media Maven, Philanthropist, Actor, Influencer… Genius”

From Top Model To Black Panther, Actress Yaya Alafia Is ‘Truly African-American’

In 2013, Yaya Alafia played Black Panther Carol Hammie in The Butler.
In 2013, Yaya Alafia played Black Panther Carol Hammie in The Butler.

Yaya Alafia arrived on TV screens more than a decade ago as Yaya DaCosta, the young model proud of her African and Latina roots in Season 3 of America’s Next Top Model. But, as she tells NPR’s Michel Martin, she has come a long way since competing on the series. “I have practiced such deliberate amnesia when it came to that show,” she admits. “Just hearing my voice at such a young, vulnerable age, forced into this other world that I wasn’t prepared for.”

But that experience did prepare her for a successful film career. In 2013, she starred in three films: Mother of GeorgeBig Words and The Butler, in which she played a Black Panther.

“[My father] was an organizer in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. My mother did a little bit of work with the Black Panthers,” she says. “It felt kind of natural for me going on that audition.”

A graduate in Africana studies and international relations from Brown University, Alafia celebrates the fact that she is “one of those Africans in America that’s kind of a mutt, for lack of a better word.” And although her roots stretch from Nigeria to Brazil, she believes that “when people start to get a little too specific, it serves as a divisive tactic.”

Originally from Harlem, she spent a trimester of high school abroad in the Dominican Republic. She says her experience there made her aware of complicated issues involving racial identity. “I didn’t realize how deep-rooted the brainwashing went and how much self-hate there was. … My host mother would yell at me, saying … ‘You’re going to burn out there, don’t get too dark, you could be so pretty.’ And that really had an effect on me.”

Continue reading “From Top Model To Black Panther, Actress Yaya Alafia Is ‘Truly African-American’”

Lee Daniels and More to Direct WGN America’s “10 Commandments”

lee-daniels
Director Lee Daniels (Foc Kan/WireImage)

According to Variety.com, Lee Daniels, the director of Precious and Lee Daniels’ The Butler, has signed on to direct an episode of the Bible-based limited-series project, 10 Commandments.  Each hour of the 10-episode scripted series will tell a different tale of drawn from the Biblical rule book, with a different filmmaker attached to each commandment episode. Creatives attached to the project as directors so far include: Daniels, Gus Van Sant, Jim Sheridan, Wes Craven and Michael Cera.

Bruce Cohen and Bob Weinstein are producing  the series. Details on Commandments were unveiled by WGN America head Matt Cherniss Sunday during the cabler’s Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena. “Each of these directors is acclaimed for their own unique brand of style and genre, so it’s clear that we can expect ten wildly different episodes from this series,” said Weinstein, who is co-chairman of TWC.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

“12 Years A Slave” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Lead NAACP Image Award Nominations

Lee Daniels' The Butler

The nominees for the 45th NAACP Image Awards were announced on Jan. 9, and 12 Years A Slave and Lee Daniels’ The Butler lead the pack with seven nominations each, including nods in the coveted Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture categories.  Other multiple nominees include the Kerry Washington-starrer Scandal and Kevin Hart‘s BET comedy Real Husbands of Hollywood, each coming in with five nods in the television drama and comedy categories.

In addition to being nominated for her role as Olivia Pope on Scandal, Washington also received a nomination in the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture category for her role in the film Tyler Perry Presents Peeples.  Angela Bassett went one better and landed three acting nominations, for her film performance in Black Nativity, and her outstanding television work in Betty and Coretta and American Horror Story: Coven Terrence Howard was the most-nominated male actor, grabbing dual nods for his performances in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and The Best Man Holiday.

In music, Robin Thicke garnered four nominations for Blurred Lines, including Outstanding Male Artist and Outstanding Album, while Janelle Monae was the most-nominated female artist, gaining honors in the Outstanding Female Artist, Outstanding Album and Outstanding Music Video categories.

The Image Awards are presented annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the group’s members select the winners. The 45th annual NAACP Image Awards is set to air on Feb. 22 on the TV One channel at 9 p.m. CT.

Check out the full list of nominations below:

TELEVISION

Outstanding Comedy Series
“House of Lies”
“Modern Family”
“Real Husbands of Hollywood”
“The Game”
“The Soul Man”

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series
Andre Braugher – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Cedric The Entertainer – “The Soul Man”
Don Cheadle – “House of Lies”
DuleHill – “Psych”
Kevin Hart – “Real Husbands of Hollywood”

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
Aisha Tyler – “Archer”
Mindy Kaling – “The Mindy Project”
Niecy Nash – “The Soul Man”
Tasha Smith – “Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse”
Wendy Raquel Robinson – “The Game”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Boris Kodjoe – “Real Husbands of Hollywood”
Jerry “J B Smoove” Brooks – “Real Husbands of Hollywood”
Morris Chestnut – “Nurse Jackie”
Nick Cannon – “Real Husbands of Hollywood”
Tracy Morgan – “30 Rock”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Anna Deavere Smith – “Nurse Jackie”
Brandy Norwood – “The Game”
Nia Long – “House of Lies”
Rashida Jones – “Parks and Recreation”
Sofia Vergara – “Modern Family”

Outstanding Drama Series
“Boardwalk Empire”
“Grey’s Anatomy”
“Scandal”
“The Good Wife”
“Treme”

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
James Pickens, Jr. – “Grey’s Anatomy”
LL Cool J – “NCIS: Los Angeles”
Michael Ealy – “Almost Human”
Shemar Moore – “Criminal Minds”
Wendell Pierce – “Treme”

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Chandra Wilson – “Grey’s Anatomy”
Kerry Washington – “Scandal”
Khandi Alexander – “Treme”
Nicole Beharie – “Sleepy Hollow”
Regina King – “SouthLAnd”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Columbus Short – “Scandal”
Guillermo Diaz – “Scandal”
Jeffrey Wright – “Boardwalk Empire”
Joe Morton – “Scandal”
Michael Kenneth Williams – “Boardwalk Empire”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Archie Panjabi – “The Good Wife”
Debbie Allen – “Grey’s Anatomy”
Diahann Carroll – “White Collar”
Taraji P. Henson – “Person of Interest”
Vanessa L. Williams – “666 Park Avenue”

Continue reading ““12 Years A Slave” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Lead NAACP Image Award Nominations”

“12 Years a Slave” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Among Top SAG Awards Nominees

Chiwetel Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave'
Chiwetel Ejiofor in ’12 Years a Slave’ (Fox Searchlight)

The Screen Actors Guild released their list of award nominees this morning — one day before the Golden Globes announces their selections of the year’s best television shows and motion pictures.  Among the top nominees for the 20th annual SAG awards were 12 Years a Slave and Lee Daniels’ The Butler – which solidified their status as front-runners for the Oscars.

12 Years a Slave led the pack with four nominations: outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role (Chiwetel Ejifor), outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role (Michael Fassbender) and outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role (Lupita Nyong’o).  The film also scored big among other awards ceremonies after the Boston Society of Film Critics awarded the film its top prize while the New York Film Critics Online named it best picture of the year.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler was also a top contender with three nominations. Oprah Winfrey was nominated for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role and Forest Whitaker was among the nominees for outstanding performance by male actor in a leading role. The film was also nominated for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

Meanwhile, in television Kerry Washington and Angela Bassett and Don Cheadle all earned nominations for their work this year, Washington for lead actress in the ABC drama Scandal, Bassett for her turn as Coretta Scott King in the Lifetime television movie Betty and Coretta, and Cheadle for his Showtime comedy series House of Lies.

Continue reading ““12 Years a Slave” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Among Top SAG Awards Nominees”

‘The Butler’ Becomes 1st Black Film with Black Director To Break $100 Million Sales Mark In Over 20 Years

Lee Daniels’ The Butler has reached a new milestone.  According to reports, the drama is the first black film of 2013 to surpass the $100 million sales mark at the box office. In addition, it’s now the first “black film” directed by a black filmmaker to reach the achievement in the last 23 years.  “You’d find very few films that tell stories about black people, and that were directed by black filmmakers, with grosses of over $100 million,” Indie Wire reports.

“Part of the reason for that is that, within the studio system, black directors just haven’t always been given the opportunity to direct “black films” – especially those that did gross over $100 million in recent years, like Django UnchainedDreamgirlsThe Pursuit Of Happyness, and even Big Mommas House, which all grossed over $100 million, in their years of release, un-adjusted for inflation.”  Thanks to the success of the film, Lee Daniels says big box office bucks are no longer a concern for his future projects.

“I don’t think I’m going to have a problem now. I made $100 million for The Butler,” he said. “I’m in a rare group. So this is something I feel good about.”  Sources say the The Best Man Holiday, set for a November 15 release, has the potential to reach a similar height.

article by Myeisha Essex via blackamericaweb.com

Forest Whitaker To Play Colin Powell in Feature Film

Forest Whitaker arrives at the premiere of the movie 'The Butler' during the 39th Deauville American Festival on August 30, 2013 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)
Forest Whitaker arrives at the premiere of the movie ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ during the 39th Deauville American Festival on August 30, 2013 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)

Forest Whitaker is on a real winning streak.  This year his leading role in the blockbuster Lee Daniels’ The Butler is generating serious Oscar buzz, and now he has reportedly signed on to play former Secretary of State Colin Powell in an upcoming biopic.  Actor Jeffrey Wright previously played Powell in Oliver Stone’s 2008 film W, but the influential Republican has never had a standalone film of his own.

According to the A.V. Club, the new movie, entitled Powell, will “focus on that pivotal moment of Powell’s 2002 speech to the U.N., in which he dramatically claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and sacrificed his sterling reputation in the service of Bush’s desire to invade at all costs.”

The intended release date and the rest of the cast are currently unknown.

article via thegrio.com

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Crosses $100 Million Mark at Box Office

Oprah Winfrey with (L-R) Lee Daniels, Forest Whitaker and David OyelowoPhoto Credit: © 2013 Harpo Studios, Inc.
Oprah Winfrey with (L-R) Lee Daniels, Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo Photo Credit: © 2013 Harpo Studios, Inc.

Although it’s been in theaters for more than a month, Lee Daniels’ The Butler continued its strong box-office performance with a fourth-place finish that saw North American ticket sales cross the $100 million mark.  With a production budget of approximately $30 million, in limited release internationally and awards season still ahead, The Butler is in strong contention for becoming one of the most profitable movies of 2013.

The top movie this weekend was horror film Insidious: Chapter 2, which debuted in first place with $41 million, more than tripling the opening take of the 2010 original.  Another newcomer, Relativity Media’s Robert De Niro-Michelle Pfeiffer crime caper The Family, opened in second place with $14.5 million. That bumped last week’s champ, the Vin Diesel starrer Riddick, to third.  Jennifer Aniston vehicle We’re The Millers rounded out the top five.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

 

Box Office: ‘Riddick’ Defies Post-Labor Day Slump With $18.7 Million, ‘Butler’ to Second Place

Riddick Movie

Vin Diesel helped light up what is usually a dark post-Labor Day box office period, with Universal’s franchise pic “Riddick” scoring a solid estimated $18.7 million domestically.  The film claimed the weekend’s No. 1 spot, unseating the Weinstein Co.’s “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which stayed strong in second place with $8.9 million. The three-week champ, which fell just 40% in its fourth frame, reached $91.9 million Stateside through Sunday.

Total domestic box office was up over this time last year by roughly 25%, thanks also to a excellent expansion for Lionsgate-Pantelion’s “Instructions Not Included.” The Hispanic-targeted crowdpleaser earned $8.1 million from just 717 locations, up from 384 last weekend, for a U.S. cume now past $20 million.

It was a sci-fi-themed weekend globally: Sony’s futuristic pic “Elysium” ranked first overseas with an estimated $21.2 million, of which China contributed $11.7 million in its first weekend locally. In total, “Elysium” has cumed $127 million internationally and $212 million worldwide.

While “Riddick” defied the post-Labor Day slump, the film still came in on the low-side of expectations. Pic opened with less than its predecessor’s $24 million debut in 2004, but the $38 million three-quel outperformed the original film, 2000′s “Pitch Black,” which grossed $11.6 million during opening weekend.

“We always try to find the right time for the right films,” said Universal distribution prexy Nikki Rocco. “This was an inexpensive venture for Universal, and we wanted Vin to have the No. 1 film.”

Not surprisingly, “Riddick” earned most of its opening from men, at 59%, with Hispanics contributing a sizable 37% of the gross. Imax also helped with fanboy appeal, posting $2.5 million of the domestic opening.

article by Andrew Stewart via variety.com

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Delivers Another #1 Showing at the Box Office

 oprah & forest (the butler)According to box office estimates, Lee Daniels’ The Butler the film beat out One Direction: This Is Us to win the Labor Day weekend box office race and become the first movie this year to finish No. 1 three consecutive weeks, according to TheWrap.

It appears the civil rights saga, starring Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker, will bring in a little more than $20 million over the four-day holiday weekend. After looking as if it was going to finish in the top spot, Sony’s boy band music documentary ended the Labor Day weekend with $18 million.

“We’re surprised,” The Weinstein Company’s distribution chief Erik Lomis told TheWrap, “and very proud. We weren’t expecting to come away with this one, especially after starting out $5 million behind ‘One Direction’ after Friday.”

Lomis said “The Butler,” which has now brought in nearly $80 million domestically, was continuing to broaden its demographic base by playing younger.

“With the kids getting back to school, we’re hoping the word of mouth gets even stronger,” said Lomis. There’s not much room to expand in terms of theaters; it’s on 3,330 screens and averaged just over $6,000.

Two other wide openers – the Selena Gomez-Ethan Hawke thriller “Getaway” and the Eric Bana spy tale “Closed Circuit” – were both non-starters. But “Instructions Not Included,” a family comedy starring Eugenio Derbez, recorded the biggest domestic opening ever for a Spanish-language movie – on just 347 screens – and finished fifth with $10 million for the four days.

Get the FULL story at TheWrap.