'The Butler' Title Saga, Part II: Harvey Weinstein Responds

[caption id="attachment_185651" align="alignleft" width="300"]the-butler-1 "The Butler" Trailer[/caption]

Last week, we wrote about the controversy surrounding the title of "The Butler", an upcoming film starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.

The ongoing Warner Bros. vs. Weinstein Company dispute hit new highs on Tuesday, when Mr. Harvey Weinstein himself appeared on "CBS This Morning" to discuss the feud, along with TWC lawyer David Boies, MPAA Chairman-CEO Chris Dodd, and First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams.

As expected, Weinstein continually stood by his movie's current (or, perhaps soon-to-be former) title, with Boies wholeheartedly backing his client's views with legal terms and justifications. "One hundred twenty-two times in the history of movies, titles have been used and repeated," Weinstein said. "And our understanding with Warner Bros. was that this was just going to be the simple process that it always is" — referring to titles such as "Heat" (and "Heat" and "The Heat") and "Unstoppable" (et al.) as evidence.

In fact, Weinstein says the feud isn't about the title at all. "I think there's an ulterior motive," he revealed. "My dad taught me to fight injustice. This is unjust. I was asked by two execs at Warner Brothers, which I'm happy to testify, that if I gave them back the rights to 'The Hobbit', they would drop the claim. For a 1916 short? This was used as a bullying tactic. This was the big guy trying to hit the small guy."

Dodd and Abrams, on the other hand, largely accused TWC of not abiding by the rules. Dodd, whose MPAA organization sided with WB last week, felt less strongly about the whole ordeal. "There's no reason why this has to become a large issue," he said. "Sit down, talk to each other. Sit down and work it out. It's silly."

Not so silly when you think about the $25,000-per-day fines that the MPAA has imposed on TWC for running ads with the title, or the 5,000 trailers that TWC had to pull from theaters. With the movie coming out in a month, we have no idea what to expect.

Either way (and as noted firmly by WB in their official statement), this is generating a ton of publicity for the film. Boies reminds audiences that TWC will do everything they can to "find a way to get this important civil rights movie out."

Until then, stay tuned for updates and check out "The Butler"(???) in theaters Aug 16.