Lee Daniels, ‘The Butler’ had its star studded premiere last night at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. Power couples shmoozed around the lobby. The hardest job of the night had to be the security guards who were trying to get the chatty guests to go inside the theater, to no avail. Forest Whitaker, with his lovely wife Keisha by his side, told friends, “I think you’ll like it, I hope you do.”
Jane Fonda and Richard Perry walked in, followed by her son Troy Garrity and his wife Simone. They chatted with Cuba Gooding Jr and his wife Sara. Cuba planted an impromptu kiss on a happily surprised Gladys Knight who was with her husband William McDowell. The R&B legend sings the Lenny Kravitz-penned title song in the movie. Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and wife Nicole Avant were talking with Russell Simmons.
Oprah Winfrey walked in sans Bf Stedman Graham or best friend Gayle King, and was quickly besieged by friends. She greeted them all, despite her itchy security wanting her to go inside. Oprah is seriously on track now for Best Supporting Actress, even with Meryl Streep, Octavia Spencer, Sally Hawkins and a few others vying for the top spot.
Harvey Weinstein started the night by addressing the VIP crowd. “It’s been a long road, I thank Warner Brothers and the MPAA for giving us the best fight since Ali/Frazier.” Harvey then thanked the late producer Laura Ziskin, who got the biggest applause of the night. “There is no one I admire more than Laura, this was a project dear to her heart, she was truly in love with this.” Harvey then went on to pay tribute to Lee Daniels: “None of this happened without Lee Daniels, our fearless General.”
Daniels said, “Harvey asked me not to get nervous but that’s not so easy.” Lee first thanked the talented screenwriter Danny Strong, “It all starts with the word.” Lee continued, ” I understand now why my Dad beat me. He tried to express it, but he couldn’t. His father beat him, and his father beat him, and his father was a slave. I love you Dad and I understand it all now. This movie explains it all to me.”
After the film ended, Daniels spoke after a long standing ovation. Lee pointed out “the biggest star in the house, who taught us everything about non-violence, Civil Rights Activist, James Lawson.” Lee then introduced the cast, which included Jane Fonda, Clarence Williams III, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Alex Pettyfer, Elijah Kelley. And Oprah. As Daniels noted of Whitaker: “Someone who has taught all of us about humility.”
At the crowded after party across the street, Harvey was holding court, Oprah was thrilled to take a pic with three generations of her close friends, Hollywood legendary manager Dolores Robinson, her daughter actress Holly Robinson Peete, and Holly’s daughter, children’s author Ryan Peete. Danny Strong was chatting with Laura Ziskin’s husband, famed screenwriter Alvin Sargent and her daughter Julia. The crowd was buzzing already that “The Butler,” is the film to beat come Oscar season.