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2013 August 1

'The Butler' And Oprah Spend An Eve At Hearst

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(NEW YORK) Excitement is de rigueur when Oprah Winfrey is on Hearst Tower turf to work on her eponymous glossy, surely. But the palpable yet politely restrained giddiness of having the icon on the premises for a screening of her new film, The Butler, along with co-star Forest Whitaker and director Lee Daniels manifested in bemused glances and whispers from editors popping out of elevators. Perhaps it was the chic set lured in for the eve that caused some of that rubbernecking on those escalators: Barbara Walters and Gloria Steinem showed up, and a cadre of designers turned out, too, including Prabal Gurung, Vera Wang, Tracy Reese, Rachel Roy, and Monika Chiang. As for the main event: A totally epic and sweeping gem of a flick based on the life of Eugene Allen, a White House butler for eight (!) presidential terms, and the unfolding of a few decades' worth of American history in the process. 

Was O, The Oprah Magazine's creative director Adam Glassman on Oprah chill-out duty for last eve's starry screening? "No! Oprah is perfectly chill on her own." Glassman laughed. During The Butler's filming last summer, Winfrey was on set in New Orleans, her mag was deep in the process of choosing all of "Oprah's Favorite Things." The solution? "There was a lot of Skype-ing when she was permitted to get out of character and put her Oprah hat back on," Glassman recounted. 

During a panel chat about the film after the screening, Winfrey's right-hand woman and editor-at-large of her mag, Gayle King, was on moderator duty during a lively  tête-à-tête between Winfrey, Whitaker, and Daniels. As for Winfrey's work with an acting coach to prep for her role (the same coach used by the likes of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, BTW), don't think it was by choice. "Well, [I did it] because I had to! Lee made me," Winfrey exclaimed to King, likening acting to picking up an instrument after a long hiatus. A revelation for Oprah adorers out there: crying is hard for her, contrary to what her house of getting teary on the couch "During the Oprah years, Gayle called me and said, 'You're crying too damn much! Every time I turn on the TV, you're crying about something." Winfrey recounted, to peels of laughter from the crowd. 

When the flick hits the big screen on August 16, there are two things you should do, darlings: Absolutely see it, and absolutely consider bringing tissues.
ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV 



 




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