Lee Daniels Talks about 'Precious' In Theaters November 6, 2009
Liz Smith of Variety writes...
Lee Daniels is a guy I was once seated next
to at a Vogue dinner party arranged by the giant fashion plate, Andre Leon
Talley. After five minutes, I realized he had been a driving force, as a
producer, who helped Halle Berry win an Oscar for "Monster's
Ball." He was as impressed with his "overnight success" as I
Recently, not having seen Lee in ages, I
wrote a story about his surprising next triumph -- as director and producer of
the three-million dollar movie "Precious."
The Lionsgate movie, opening Nov. 6, won
three awards at Sundance. And it won Oprah's backing. It stars young Gabourey
("Gabby") Sidibe as the tormented teenager whose father impregnates
her, whose classmates bully her and whose witch of a mother beats her. (Lee
says the latter role is that of a classic villainess, acted by award-winning
comedienne Mo'Nique "in a way that makes you ask 'whatever happened to
Baby Jane.' ")
Lee was full of raves for another actress,
Paula Patton, who plays a lesbian who intervenes on behalf of the abused girl.
Mariah Carey, who is one of Lee's pet talents, has a role here also, and Lenny
Kravitz plays a nurse.
"Did Oprah really back this film all the
way?" I ask Lee who is kidding around on the other end of the phone. He
settled down: "Indeed she did. She connected to it with bells and whistles
and is an executive producer with Tyler Perry."
Daniels is a guy on the verge, concerned that
he makes the right choices. He is being offered big money to make big films,
but wants to be sure he is doing the right thing, "because we never had
money to do movies like this before...though this one cost us only three million."
Lee is doing the right thing, I think. At
least, he agreed to take me to dinner with Carey, a long admired mutual friend,
and with Kravitz, on whom I have had a big crush since being introduced to him
in Orso one night whereupon he rose, crushed me to his chest and gave me a big
I'm such a pushover!