Gayle King attends Ralph Lauren Presents Exclusive Screening Of Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief Celebrating The Princess Grace Foundation at Ralph Lauren Women’s Store on October 28, 2013 in New York City
*First Lady Michelle Obama is hosting a Careers In Film symposium today at the White House, with a solid lineup of talent on the guest list, including “Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler and Naomie Harris, who plays Winnie Mandela in “Long Walk To Freedom.”
The filmmakers’ discussion, also including The Weinstein Company chairman Harvey Weinstein, will be moderated by Gayle King.
The event, which started at 10 a.m., is designed to teach high school students from Washington DC, NYC and Boston about the film industry. The Weinstein Company participants will talk to the students about how they got where they are and what helped them do so.
*President Obama is set to host a screening of the Weinstein Company’s “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” on November 7 with Harvey Weinstein and the film’s director and cast in attendance.
“Knowing what a strong relationship President Obama has with President Mandela, it’s an honor for this film to be shown at the White House,” said Weinstein in a statement Monday.
November 7 is the same day that First Lady Michelle Obama is holding an event with as yet unnamed industry experts for high school students wanting to learn more about the film biz. So it’s likely that Weinstein, director Justin Chadwick and “Mandela” stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris will drop by before the screening that evening, according to Deadline.com.
Mandela’s daughters Zindzi and Zenami will also be in attendance at the White House screening.
Heavily considered an Oscar contender, the Mandela film joins DreamWorks’ “Lincoln” and Legendary/WB’s “42” as having screened at the White House in the past year.
“Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” debuts on November 29 in LA and NYC.
*Harvey Weinstein has enlisted the civil rights leader trio comprised of Jesse Jackson (Operation PUSH), NAACP president & CEO Ben Jealous, and National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, Roy Innis, in his fight against Warner Bros. over the use of the title “The Butler.”
The trio released a statement in support of Harvey Weinstein and the Lee Daniels-directed film:
“We are all watching and waiting for the results of today’s arbitration and hoping that Warner Bros. and the MPAA make the right decision on this important movie about civil rights.”
The Weinstein Co.’s lawyer David Boies has been battling Warner Bros to no avail to secure the title for upcoming movie. With “The Butler” opening in just under a month, August 16, Boies has made yet another attempt at the title in an appeal hearing of the MPAA’s Title Registration Bureau.
It’ll be interesting to see if the civil rights trio will have any positive influence in the case that will help Weinstein.
*The first teaser trailer has been released for “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” staring Idris Elba as the South African icon and Naomie Harris as his former wife, Winnie.
The Weinstein Co. screened footage of the film in Cannes where Harvey Weinstein promised it is not an ordinary biopic, reports Deadline.com. It tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s life, from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa.
Mandela was recently admitted to a Pretoria hospital and remains there in critical, but stable condition, the government said this week.
The Justin Chadwick-directed film goes out in limited release in the U.S. on Nov. 29. Below is the first teaser for the film. (It’s a UK version, so it’s tagged with a Jan. 3 date).
*A Motion Picture Association of America title registration bureau arbitration ruled Tuesday that The Weinstein Co. could not use the title “The Butler” on its upcoming film, due to be released Aug. 16, because that previously served as the title of a 1916 short film that now belongs to the Warner Bros. library.
Harvey Weinstein, however, will not go down without a fight for his Lee Daniels film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he has enlisted high-powered attorney David Boies, who most recently prevailed in a Supreme Court challenge to California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.
The Weinstein Co. issued a response statement from Boies that said, “The suggestion that there is a danger of confusion between The Weinstein Co.’s 2013 feature movie and a 1917 [sic] short that has not been shown in theaters, television, DVDs, or in any other way for almost a century makes no sense. The award has no purpose except to restrict competition and is contrary to public policy.”
While the titles of works of art cannot be copyrighted (nor, in general, trademarked), the MPAA maintains the Title Registration Bureau, which is a voluntary central registration entity for titles of movies intended for U.S. theatrical distribution to prevent public confusion over films with similar titles. In order to register titles, companies subscribe to the registry and are bound by the bureau’s rules, which prescribe procedures for registering titles and handling any related disputes.
Usually, when one company wants to use a title to which another studio already has a claim, the two engage in some behind-the-scenes horse-trading, but that didn’t happen in this case and instead the issue went to arbitration. The arbitration board said that The Weinstein Co. has to change the name of the film immediately, saying “TWC made continuous use of the unregistered title The Butler in willful violation of the TRB rules.”
According to one source, Warners didn’t make any case at the arbitration that it intended to use the title The Butler — or that it had it in use. Instead, it chose to stand on precedent, arguing that The Weinstein Co., which is a signatory to the TRB though not a member of the MPAA, hadn’t followed the established rules.
The ruling creates an immediate problem for The Weinstein Co., which has already begun promoting the film, which stars Forest Whitaker and is based on the true story of Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House for 34 years, retiring as head butler in 1986. The film also stars Oprah Winfrey and a star-studded cast that includes Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, Liev Schreiber and John Cusack and is being positioned as a potential awards contender.