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The Boston Globe

Movies

How ‘The Butler’ evolved from the page to the screen

Danny Strong.

Sony Pictures quickly bought the rights to the story, and producer Laura Ziskin (“Pretty Woman”) asked writer-actor Danny Strong to do the screenplay. Strong had previously acted on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Gilmore Girls.” He also wrote the acclaimed HBO drama “Game Change.” After four years of work, three in collaboration with director Lee Daniels (“Precious”), and a battle for financing, Strong’s screenplay for “The Butler” was shot under Daniels’s direction. It stars Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”) as a butler named Cecil Gaines, whose fictional story draws from Allen’s real-life tale. Oprah Winfrey plays the butler’s wife, and others in the unconventional, star-studded cast include Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Terence Howard, John Cusack, Robin Williams, and Jane Fonda.

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