Warner Bros.: Weinstein's 'Butler' did it

Posted: July 11, 2013

HARVEY WEINSTEIN is fighting with Warner Bros. over the name of the new movie by Philly native Lee Daniels.

In dispute is the claim to the title "The Butler," which the Weinstein Co. has promoted as the name of Daniels' upcoming drama about a White House butler, starring Forest Whitaker, which is to be released Aug. 16. It's based on the life of White House butler Eugene Allen, whose service extended through decades of U.S. presidents.

But an arbitrator last week ruled that Warner Bros. has the right to "The Butler," having released a so-named silent short in . . . 1916.

The Weinstein Co. is appealing the decision.

Tattle isn't even sure why this is an issue. "No Way Out," for instance, was a 1950 Sidney Poitier-Richard Widmark film from 20th Century Fox. It was also a completely different 1987 Kevin Costner film from MGM.

Weinstein took to "CBS This Morning" yesterday to claim that Warner Bros. has an "ulterior motive" in refusing to allow use of the title. He claimed that Warner's argument is really over rights to "The Hobbit," of which he shares a part in the profits, having developed the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy while running Miramax. Warner Bros. denies the assertion.

Said Weinstein: "If we run ads with 'The Butler,' the MPAA is imposing $25,000 a day in penalties. We have to pull 5,000 trailers from the theaters, we have to pull our website down, all of which we complied with."

Warner Bros. claims that the Weinstein Co. "is following an oft-trodden path of creating 'well-publicized controversies' in order to promote their films by disseminating deliberate misinformation about the true nature of this dispute."

"The Weinsteins are sophisticated experts in this arena, and three neutral arbitrators have penalized them for blatantly disregarding MPAA rules," Warner's said. "It goes without saying that Warner Bros. has no issue with Lee Daniels' film, [never has] and fully supports the artistic goals of the filmmakers. The Weinsteins' suggestions to the contrary are deeply offensive and untrue."

On "CBS This Morning," MPAA chairman Chris Dodd urged cooler heads to prevail, telling both sides: "Sit down and work it out. This is silly."

When a former senator tells you you're being silly. . .

* Al Jazeera is on the hot seat again, but this time the complaints are coming from other Middle Eastern journalists.

In an unusual move, Al Jazeera's reporters were kicked out of a news briefing held by the Egyptian military in Cairo after the shooting of dozens of supporters of Mohammad Morsi, the nation's ousted president. According to the Associated Press, the Al Jazeera journalists left the meeting amid chants from the crowd of "Out! Out!"

Al Jazeera's rude reception in Cairo probably reflects a perception that has been building since even before Morsi and his political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, won and lost power in Egypt over the past year: that Al Jazeera and its owner, the royal family of oil-rich Qatar, have been supporters of Morsi and the Brotherhood. With Egypt now deeply divided, those alleged loyalties have cast Al Jazeera into disfavor among Egypt's anti-Morsi faction.

TATTBITS

* One of the Jonas Brothers is going to become a Jonas father.

A rep for the Jonases says that Kevin Jonas and wife Danielle are expecting their first child.

The two married in 2009. They are the stars of the E! reality series "Married to Jonas," which wrapped its second season in May.

Since Kim Kardashian recently gave birth, maybe this is a new E! programming plan.

Corey Taylor, the lead singer of Slipknot, says that equipment worth $36,000 has been stolen from his home and storage units in Iowa.

The Des Moines Register reported that Taylor told police that two guitars that had belonged to Slipknot bassist Paul Gray, who died in May 2010, were among the items stolen.

Taylor told police that he suspected that a friend stole the gear while he and his wife were touring Europe.

Some of the equipment has been recovered from a guitar store.

Elton John has canceled a show in London's Hyde Park and will need surgery.

A publicist's statement said that Sir Elton was suffering from an inflamed appendix and surrounding abscess.

Mariah Carey was treated for a dislocated shoulder at a New York hospital after injuring her shoulder while filming a music video.

Carey was filming a video for a remix version of her song "#Beautiful," with rapper Young Jeezy. The video was being directed by her husband, Nick Cannon.

Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, John Sandford, Jeffery Deaver and other top thriller writers will combine their talents in "Face Off," an anthology announced yesterday by Simon & Schuster and scheduled to come out next year.

The book's 11 stories will feature a variety of fictional detective dream teams.

Amanda Bynes wore a long aqua wig, false eyelashes and black sweatpants and a tank top for a brief court appearance yesterday on allegations that she tossed a bong out the window of her 36th-floor Manhattan apartment.

Amanda did not speak during the quickie hearing, and neither she nor her attorney spoke with reporters outside court.

Amanda also refrained from tweeting that the judge was ugly.

- Daily News wire services contributed to this report.


Phone: 215-854-5678

On Twitter: @DNTattle

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