Precious director Lee Daniels will head to the White House for his next project. Daniels has signed a deal to rewrite and direct The Butler, a film based on the life of Eugene Allen, the African-American butler who worked in the White House for 34 years and through eight presidents. Laura Ziskin, of the Spider-Man series, is producing the film, and actor-turned-screenwriter Danny Strong wrote the first draft of the script. Oscar-winner Denzel Washington is said to be in talks for the lead role.
The basis for the film is a series of articles by Washington Post writer Wil Haygood, which chronicle the 34 years Allen spent “watching the eight presidents he worked for wrestle with and finally stem the tide of segregation.” Allen died earlier this year, nearly two months after attending the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, as a VIP guest.
Lee Daniels, whose surprise hit Precious was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, originally had a different film in mind for his first post-Oscar project. Daniels was set to direct Selma, a film about Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous Civil Rights marches in the titular city. The film had lined up some incredible talent lined up, including Liam Neeson, Robert De Niro, british actor David Oyelowo as Rev. King and Hugh Jackman as Selma’s racist sheriff, but funding for the film still hasn’t solidified. If Daniels goes ahead with The Butler, Selma might have to be shelved, but another success could encourage people to invest in the film. Honestly both of these projects sound fascinating, so hopefully Daniels will find a way to make it work.