SEVERAL YEARS ago, after Halle Berry won the Oscar for “Monster’s Ball,” I was seated by that film’s producer, Lee Daniels, at a party given by Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley. During dinner, Lee told me all his hopes and dreams, and we became friends.
He has his association with the “Monster’s Ball” Oscar under his belt, as well as the 2005 film “Shadowboxer,” starring Helen Mirren. Now he is rolling with “Precious,” which everybody seemed to love at the recent New York Film Festival.
Lee set out this time to film the story of a 300-pound adolescent pregnant by her father and abused by her mother. His onetime manager told Lee no one would want to see such a downbeat, sordid story.
But Lee got up at the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals to accept the “audience award” for “Precious.”
Lee fought to make “Precious.” He raised the money himself. He talked Mariah Carey into trying an unglamorous role. He searched the masses for a suitable teenager and talked Gabourey Sidibe into playing her. He talked Mo’Nique into jeopardizing her comedy career to portray a monster on film. He talked the talented Harvard graduate Geoffrey Fletcher into writing his screenplay. He talked Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry into putting their magic names on and money in his movie.
Lee is a man who stopped using cocaine, adopted one of his brother’s offspring to raise, cut off his dreadlocks and started wearing a three-piece suit.
And Lee Daniels has some upstanding women in his corner, namely the women of “Precious”; then there’s Oprah, Dame Helen Mirren — and, I guess — me.
CLIVE DAVIS continues to treat the rejuvenated Whitney Houston like a piece of fragile china.
Whitney is Clive’s greatest discovery, and he has been her faithful supporter through thick and thicker. Now that Whitney is in serious comeback mode with her “I Look to You” CD, Clive is even more solicitous and careful not to allow anything to break the spell of her recovery.
Clive went with Whitney to the U.K. for an appearance on the popular “X Factor” show. (That’s where the strap of her gown snapped — a wardrobe malfunction but not a big reveal. Whitney acted fast to recover.)
Now we hear that Clive is planning for Whitney to guest on the “Dancing With the Stars” finale. No, she won’t dance. She’ll sing something from her new album and hope to “move” several thousand more discs out of the stores.