the butler, oscars, harvey weinstein, lee daniels, oprah winfrey, denzel washington, forest whitaker

The Weinstein Company is way trying to keep their flick, The Butler, relevant for awards season. The film was released earlier than the current crop of contenders, and it seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit. Stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey are getting a smattering of nominations from various groups, Winfrey got a SAG nomination, but was snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press, aka the Golden Globes, and Whitaker has gotten some critics acclaim, but Hollywood insiders are surprised there’s not more momentum because it’s truly a terrific film.

For that reason, Harvey Weinstein, being who he is, called out the big guns, specifically Denzel Washington, to host a special screening last night at the Academy in Beverly Hills. Lee Daniels, the director of the film was also there hawking it, as were stars Cuba Gooding Jr., David Oyelowo, Elijah Kelley and the diva herself, singer Gladys Knight, who sings the song “You and I Ain’t Nothin’ No More,” in the film. Washington spoke briefly to the crowd, which included Academy members and various showbiz folk that haven’t seen the film yet. He wore a tracksuit and succinctly said, “Welcome, words are cheap, so let’s get on with watching the movie!”

What wasn’t cheap — it was rather poignant and lovely to see — was the appearance by Reverend James Lawson and Charles Allen, two of the original Freedom Riders. Very impressive men they are indeed.

Costume designer Ruth Carter and producer Pam Williams also joined the above for a Q and A after the screening moderated by LACMA’s Elvis Mitchell. A reception in the Academy’s swanky lobby followed after that, where Washington turned to Daniels and very loudly exclaimed, “Lee this movie is amazing. I’m so proud of you and everyone in it.”

Well Denzel should be. Weinstein re-released the film Dec. 6. Let’s hope all this chatter and goings on about The Butler will put it in the forefront of the Academy member’s minds.

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