MPAA Schedules ‘The Butler’ Title Appeal Hearing

DOMINIC PATTEN
Deadline.comJuly 18, 2013

Harvey Weinstein will get his chance tomorrow to convince the MPAA to overturn their title ruling on The Butler. An appeal arbitration hearing has been set for 10 AM Friday in the Motion Picture Association of America’s Sherman Oaks offices, I’ve learned. The hearing comes over two weeks after The Weinstein Company lost a Title Registration Bureau arbitration to Warner Bros on the matter of the Lee Daniels-directed White House drama. Warner Bros says Weinstein can’t use the title because of a 1916 short film with the same title that WB had registered and the MPAA agreed. TWC has been being fined $25,000 a day in penalties over the matter since the initial ruling as they have not removed the title from the marketing, promotion and other materials related to the pic. It is unclear if the appeal hearing will include company and studio execs or just their respective lawyers but with the letters, potential lawsuits and public remarks that have been flying the past fortnight, it’s going to be a tense sitdown regardless. A possible compromise could be in the works with WB having suggested a couple of months back that the film be called Lee Daniels’ The Butler. This was brought up again, sources tell me, in a proposal that WB sent to TWC last week. TWC have not responded. However, the company did register the compromise title back in early June.

Starring Forrest Whitaker, Jane Fonda, Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams and Alan Rickman among others, the title challenged The Butler chronicles the various administrations an African-American butler served under in the Executive Mansion during the last half of the last century. The film is scheduled to be released on August 16.

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