Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1039: Battle Over The Butler?


Sorry, it's just that I can't help but laugh when big important Hollywood people get into a really immature pissing contest. It warms my little flint heart.

The latest involves Lee Daniels' follow-up to his movie Precious: Based On The Novel "Push" By Sapphire that was supposed to be called The Butler, and tell the heavily fictionalized story of a White House butler through the last half of the 20th Century and eight presidents. 

Before this kerfuffle The Butler was mostly known for the stunt casting of actors known for their loathing of Republicans as Republican historical figures like John Cusack as Richard Nixon and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. A move guaranteed to generate conservative media outrage and up the film's chances for some politically motivated Oscar nominations.

However, all that may change because The Butler may not be The Butler if Warner Brothers get their way.

You see a few weeks ago the Weinstein Company, which is releasing The Butler, asked Warner Brothers to change the name of their upcoming film The Good Lie because they said it was too close to their upcoming title The Good Life. TWC eventually backed down on their claim, but Warner Brothers decided to get some payback.

They filed a complaint with the MPAA saying that TWC's The Butler was too similar to a 1917 short film called The Butler, and demanded that TWC change it.

Now films with similar titles pop up all the time. Anyone remember these two films...

David Cronenberg's Crash was released in 1996 and was about an underground group that sexualizes car crashes. Paul Haggis' Crash from 2004 was about liberal guilt. They were very different films, but with exactly the same title and no one appeared to have raised a stink about it.

So why is Warner Brothers sticking it to The Butler?

My theory is that it is all about the personality of TWC head Harvey Weinstein. Harvey is not known for his diplomacy. In fact, Harvey has a gift for rubbing people the wrong way. And after he rubs them the wrong way, he does it again, with sandpaper, and then calls you a rude name.

I think when TWC made a little noise over the whole Good Lie/Good Life thing, it was the straw that broke the camel's back for someone high up at Warner Brothers. They looked at what Weinstein had coming out, ordered their minions to look for a similar title in their own library and the rest is history.

This is a win-win situation for Warner Brothers if their motive is just to piss off Harvey Weinstein. Remember, the costs of fighting this case in and out of court is relatively negligible to a mega-corp like Warner Bros. However, The Weinstein Company has a much thinner capital cushion in comparison, so even if Harvey wins the case, he would have lost a mint, and it's unlikely he could easily afford to lose a mint.


  1. Robert the Wise4/7/13 7:54 am

    "The Butler"?

    Sounds like a remake of "The Secret Diaries of Desmond Pfeifer."