Everyone connected to the extraordinary Lee Daniels film, “Precious,” will breathe a sigh of relief today when actress Mo’Nique appears on the “Today” show.
Rumors have been swirling for some time that the actress-comedienne, highly touted for a Best Supporting Actress nomination, has been demanding payments for personal appearances to promote the movie.
One source close to the production insists that Mo’Nique asked for $100,000 at one point to show up with the rest of the cast. The last time she did any publicity for the film, which is about to be released, was last January at the Sundance Film Festival.
Apparently, too, Mo’Nique’s demands have been communicated abroad, too. Foreign distributors have also balked at her demands.
At Lionsgate, a spokesperson insists this isn’t true. “Mo’Nique is doing the ‘Today’ show for us, she’s coming to the New York Film Festival. She had scheduling conflicts for Cannes and Toronto, but she did come to the Sundance festival. We’re not paying her to do anything.” Calls to Mo’Nique’s publicist have never been returned.
The weird thing is, this seems to be an open secret. Everyone connected to “Precious” knows about it. On Sunday, the whole cast showed up in Toronto for a party at the Royal Ontario Museum and a premiere at Roy Thomson Hall. Mariah Carey, Gabby Sidibe, Sherry Shephard, and Paula Patton were all in attendance. Only Mo’Nique and Lenny Kravitz ‘ who’s touring and recording ‘ were absent.
This is really a shame, too. The 41-year-old actress and comedienne, whose real name is Monique Imes, has been one of the hardest working women in show business all her life. She currently hosts’a talk show out of Atlanta on BET, and has made countless TV appearances. Her work in “Precious” as Mary, the main character’s abusive mother, is revelatory. Her whole career could change overnight.
Meantime, Mariah Carey continues to be a good sport about “Precious.” She will do a live concert at 10 a.m. from Central Park this Friday for “Oprah.” Winfrey added her name to the film, along with Tyler Perry, after it debuted in Sundance to give it higher visibility. But Carey has been plugging away for a while on it, even recording a’ song for the movie. Alas, Winfrey pal Mary J. Blige got the title song honors. Mariah is non-plussed by the whole episode. “I’m going to use it for something really good,” she told me, putting a positive spin on the matter.
P.S. Mo’Nique’s not the only no -show in the “Precious” crowd. Oprah Winfrey totally skipped the lavish “Precious” party at the Royal Ontario Museum over the weekend. She limited her appearances to a private dinner (sponsored by Entertainment Weekly, so they got access), a public press conference, and the screening of the film. But Museum partygoers who expected her got zilch, even though Winfrey had been advertised. Soon they’re going to call this movie, “Precious and Few.”
But let’s hope it all works out. “Precious” is one of the best movies of the year, hands down, and everyone in it gives can’t-miss performances.