By Paul Scicchitano
A biographer of former President Ronald Reagan said some scenes in "Lee Daniels' The Butler" may amount to what he describes as "Hollywood malpractice" if they turn out to be based on anything other than facts.
Paul Kengor, who wrote two books about the late president: "The Crusader" and "God and Ronald Reagan," took particular issue with a scene in which Nancy Reagan invites White House butler Cecil Gaines and his wife to a dinner party only for the couple to feel out of place, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"The screenwriter and makers of this film better have some hard evidence for this," Kengor told the publication. "I hope they have at least some quotes somewhere from the butler saying he felt like a prop. If they don’t, then they should be ashamed of themselves. If they don’t, then this is Hollywood malpractice."
Other biographers of the nation’s 40th president have also slammed the film, which opened widely on Friday and is based on the story of Eugene Allen, an African American who worked at the White House for more than three decades, from 1952-1986. He is named Gaines in the film, a role that is played by Forrest Whitaker.
Kengor also told the Reporter that the film appears to depict President Reagan as racially insensitive and indifferent to apartheid.
“Ronald Reagan was appalled by apartheid, but also wanted to ensure that if the apartheid regime collapsed in South Africa that it wasn’t replaced by a Marxist-totalitarian regime allied with Moscow and Cuba that would take the South African people down the same road as Ethiopia, Mozambique, and, yes, Cuba,” Kengor said. “Clearly, blacks in South Africa lost rights under apartheid, but Communism was a far greater infringement . . . In Communist nations, people were literally lined up and slaughtered — and starved — on mass scales. Has everyone forgotten this?”
This movie has one purpose and that is to criticize republican leadership. Ronald Reagan wasn't perfect but he was a great president.
Shame on Hollywood!
I'm not at all surprised that it would show Reagan in a bad light. These are the same people who hired Jane Fonda in the role of Nancy Reagan for God's sake. Look at the movie, "W" as another example. Hollywood Liberals at their "finest".
As an aside, I never see anything about any actors playing Ford & Carter in the movie. Were they skipped over?
Here is a link to the cast and I only saw Eisenhower, Kennedy (and Jacqueline and Caroline), LBJ (and Lady Byrd), Nixon, and Reagan (and Nancy). Those were the only presidents. But you will just love the casted characters otherwise. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., a Black Panther, Erhlichman, Haldeman, a couple of senators and then there is the supporting cast which are people like other servants, etc. I had thought it was to have all the presidents represented during his time in the White House, but apparenlty not.
So, no Ford, Carter, Bush Sr or Bush Jr. nor Obama.
This post was modified from its original form on 18 Aug, 13:11
He served under 8 Presidents so that would take us from Eisenhower to George H. W. Bush, so three presidents are not represented apparently. Ford, Carter & Bush Sr. No reason to have Bush Jr. or Obama in the movie.
Fact vs. Fiction in Lee Daniels’ The Butler
By Eliana Dockterman, Aug. 16, 2013
Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which opens Friday, is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, a butler at the White House for 34 years and through eight administrations. So loosely based, in fact, that it’s hard to determine which parts of the story are based on Allen’s real life — and which parts are added for dramatic effect.
Throughout his tenure at the White House, Allen quietly witnessed presidents make a series of monumental decisions impacting his civil rights as a black American.
Daniels’ film replaces the real Eugene Allen with the fictional Cecil Gaines, using the unique perspective of a White House butler as a jumping-off point to explore questions of race in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The result is a largely fictional film, rather than a biopic.
With the help of several sources, including a 2008 article in the Washington Post that chronicled Allen’s life and inspired the film, we’ve laid out what’s fact and what’s fiction — all of it spoiler-free.
Allen grew up in a cotton field in Macon, Ga.
Allen was born on a Virginia plantation in 1919, not in Georgia. He arrived in Washington during the Great Depression. In the movie, Cecil Gaines grows up on a cotton field in Macon, Ga., where his family comes into conflict with the white farmers for whom they work. What befalls his parents on the cotton field was added for dramatic effect.
Allen had a wife and two kids
Ruling: Part fact, part fiction
Allen met his wife, Helene, at a birthday party in Washington. (He was too shy to ask for her number, so she had to track him down.) The couple had only one son, Charles Allen. In the movie, Gaines meets his wife, Gloria, at the Washington hotel where both work before Gaines gets his job at the White House. The fictional Gaines family has two sons.
Allen was recruited for the job as a butler after serving an administrator of the White House in a hotel restaurant
A woman told Allen of a job opening in the White House in 1952. He was not even looking for a job at the time, as he was happily employed at a Washington country club. He did not begin immediately as a butler but rather started as a pantry worker and was promoted to the position of butler later. He interviewed with the matre d’ Alonzo Fields for the job, who immediately liked Allen. In the film, a White House administrator, impressed with Gaines’ work at a D.C. hotel, immediately offers him the job. The matre d’ character, Freddie Fallows, initially does not like Gaines when he comes to the White House.
Allen received one of President John F. Kennedy’s ties from Jacqueline Kennedy after JFK died
Like Gaines in the movie, Allen was working in the White House kitchen the day JFK was shot and received one of JFK’s ties as a gift from Mrs. Kennedy. He was also invited to Kennedy’s funeral after the assassination, but he volunteered to remain at the White House because someone had to serve attendees as they returned from the funeral service.
Allen’s son was a Black Panther and ran for office later in life
Though tension between father and son over civil rights issues fuels most of the drama in the film, Charles Allen was not the radical political activist that Gaines’s son is in the movie. Charles Allen worked as an investigator for the State Department and never ran for public office.
President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan invited Allen and his wife to a state dinner
The Reagans did invite the couple to a state dinner for the West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Helene Allen was nervous because husbands and wives do not sit together for such events, and she didn’t know how to make small talk with so many college-educated people. Her son advised her to talk about her high school experience.
The Allens were Obama supporters
Eugene and Helene both supported Barack Obama, but Helene died the day before Obama won the 2008 presidential election. The couple had been married 65 years. Allen received a VIP invitation to Obama’s inauguration and cried as he watched the ceremony.
Wish they could have told the true story instead of changing it up in large part. Seems like it would be more inspiring to tell Mr. Allen's story as it really was. The Butler has been compared to Forest Gump. I'd watch it for what it is, a story about the civil rights movement, if it wasn't skewed to the left and went out of their way to slam Reagan with untruths....and if they had someone else play Nancy.
Linda, you accidentally left out Bill Clinton in your list of presidents.
It was intentional, Sandy. LOL I left him out as I am trying to avoid the Clinton name in everything right now. LOL
Sandy, you forgot that he started during Truman's presidency, not Eisenhower's. It was Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, JFK, LBJ, Carter, Reagan, Ford and G. H. W. Bush. Those are the 9; they made a mistake when they said only 8 unless they didn't count Truman as he was already in office. I checked this out on Mr. Allen's biography page. Someone doesn't know how to count, I guess. LOL Oh, it could be that they didn't count Carter as they didn't have anyone portray him in the movie. LOL
Also, do not trust CBS news as they are the ones that said he served through
Yah, I based the number 8 from a write up on the movie & assumed he started when Eisenhower was president. I hadn't looked at Mr. Allen's bio.
Thought there might be another reason that you left Clinton's name out of the mix other than forgetfulness. Guess so. LOL
The book is also coming out. It will be interesting to see just how badly Hollywood messed up the book. But first, of course, I will have to read the book.
Don't think I will be going to the movies to see this, however, I might want to look at it later when it comes to TV. That way, when I get totally disgusted, want to call the characters names, perhaps toss a shoe. or leave the room, it won't cost me a bundle.
Going to the movies today is expensive. Especially for what you get. Mostly a boat load of bad language, all kinds of stuff blowing up and absolutely no story line!
I have one more reason why I won't be going to the move. I read an article yesterday (think I posted it) where Oprah has decided that all white people are racially prejudiced against the Blacks and uses this move as her proof way to express this (or prove it). She was very outspoken and for me that turned the movie into a racial statement rather than a movie to illustrate the interesting life of a man that served under 9 presidents in the White House; itself very worth making a movie to illustrate the changes he saw.
Then this morning I listened to CBS Morning Show with Charlie Rose and Gayle King and they interviewed someone regarding the movie (came in late and didn't hear who he was) and what they concluded was that white people were taking this beautiful "love story" type of movie and turning it into a racial issue. Now, that angered me like no one's business as the only issue I have heard any white person make of it has to do with "Hanoi Jane" portraying Nancy Reagan and it had nothing to do with racism at all. People were excited about the movie until the casting of Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan which they completely missed.
It is Oprah Winfrey that has made the movie a race issue, and of course Gayle King, her buddy of all time, is the one making this statement. I was so disgusted and I am going to write Ms. Winfrey and her buddy and let them know that any credibility they may have ever had is shot to heck. To turn this movie into something about Blacks in such a manner is disgusting and ruined any interest most people would have in viewing it. That if they wanted to make a statement about it, it was that they took a very unpatriotic person such as Jane Fonda and cast her in the role of a very patriotic First Lady, Nancy Reagan and had nothing whatsoever to do with racism. That most people were interested in seeing how Mr. Allen had the wonderful opportunity that most Americans would have given anything to experience, the more personal side of 9 presidents and their families.Why they would want to diminish the significance of his life and experience by trying to focus on racism (which is not the issue at all) is so typical of people that are more interested in a past that they never lived than the hope of extinguishing racism. That until Blacks, and I mean it, Blacks, start to put that aside it will never go away as they are the ones that want it to always be an issue.
It is sad they want to so cripple and enslave their own people in such a manner and it is time that they face that this is just what they want and what they are doing; it is not a White issue, it is their own issue of their own making.