Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.


Lee Daniels' The Butler (1/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 132 minutes.

OK for children.

This is the mostly fictionalized story of Eugene Allen, renamed Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), serving from 1957 through 1986, eventually becoming the head butler at the White House.

But because this purports to be a true story and because itís made by the Hollywood left (the producer, director, and writer are all democrat stalwarts and the producer, at least, is known to insert his political leanings in his movies), this critique requires research and will be mostly a fact check to tell potential viewers whatís true and what isnít. This is necessary because most people who view these biopics that use real names for real people come away thinking theyíve seen the truth and believe what theyíve seen. As a result, there are spoilers throughout. However, the sources I could check are pretty limited and if anything I say here about what is true and what isnít is inaccurate and a reader can provide me with facts, I will happily make corrections.

This is true: there was a black man who was a butler in The White House from 1957 through 1986; he was married to one woman who died just before the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2008. Just about everything else in the film is made up or twisted to make a political point, the result being to further incite racial divisions in this country.

Director Lee Daniels has made a film that seethes with black animosity towards whites. Itís present in every scene. There isnít a white person in the movie shown as being sympathetic. All the white Presidents are pictured as condescending, even democrat stalwarts Kennedy and Johnson. The cast is populated by Hollywoodís A-list left. Robin Williams misplays Dwight Eisenhower. John Cusack plays Richard Nixon. Alan Rickman mean-spiritedly plays Ronald Reagan as a white Stepinfetchit. Jane Fonda, who notoriously supported the Viet Cong against American troops, plays Nancy Reagan.

The kind things that white people did for Gene are twisted by Daniels and writer Danny Strong in a way that shows everything they did as blatantly racist.

So I went to the source, writer Wil Haygoodís story in the Washington Post, the article that was used as the basis for this movie. Hereís what he says about one incident shown in the film:

ďFirst lady Nancy Reagan came looking for him one afternoon, and Mr. Allen wondered whether he or a member of his staff had done something wrong. She assured him that he had not but also told him that his services would not be needed at the upcoming state dinner for German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Mr. Allen tensed, wondering why.

"She said, 'You and Helene are coming to the state dinner as guests of President Reagan and me,' " he recounted in the Post interview. Mr. Allen thought he was the first butler to receive an invitation to a state dinner. He and Helene -- she was a beautiful dresser -- looked resplendent that night. The butlers on duty seemed to pay special attention to the couple as they poured champagne for guests -- champagne that Mr. Allen himself had stacked in the kitchen.Ē

Daniels and Strong, however, twist this unprecedented kindness to make the Reagans look condescending and manipulative and Whitaker plays it to make Cecil appear uncomfortable, thinking that he and his wife are being used as mere ďtokens.Ē So the kindness of a white Republican President to honor a long time black White House employee is made into something demeaning. Daniels even has one of the black waiters serve Cecil wine and whisper ďF-youĒ in his ear. Contrary to the way Daniels pictures it, according to Haygoodís article both Gene and his wife were thrilled and felt honored at the invitation.

Consistent with his bias, Daniels never even mentions that it was Ronald Reagan who promoted Gene to be the maÓtre dí.

Another of the many dishonest scenes in the movie shows Ronald Reagan adamantly opposed to sanctions on South Africa, implying that he was supportive of the apartheid regime, without stating why he opposed sanctions. Daniels only shows an obdurate Reagan constantly repeating, ďIím going to veto it,Ē without giving any explanation. In fact, at the time communism was our main enemy and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was loaded with Communists. Reagan felt that sanctions were not the best way to achieve racial equality in South Africa, very similar to the leftís position today on sanctions on Cuba. Reaganís opposition to sanctions was a long way from supporting apartheid, but Danielís motive in this movie has no relationship to honesty. He damns with innuendo. What seems unrealistic about this scene is that Daniels has Cecil standing by watching as Reagan meets with a group of Republican senators. In fact, in every administration when there are big meetings, thereís Cecil standing there observing. Maybe itís true that waiters are omnipresent at every big meeting, but I sincerely doubt it. Iíve seen lots of photographs of lots of big meetings at The White House and have never seen the presence of a waiter. I think that Daniels put Cecil in the scene to make it look that the conversation demeaned him.

As far as movie-making goes, the acting is good. Whitaker will undoubtedly be up for an Oscarģ and he will deserve the nomination, although he plays Cecil as basically unhappy and put upon. The cinematography is well done and most of the cast, except Rickman and a horribly miscast Williams, give acceptable performances. The script is well-written for what the filmmakers intended this movie to be, and gives the political slant Daniels wanted.

Daniels stacks the books right at the outset when Cecilís father (David Banner) is murdered in cold blood by his white boss (Alex Pettyfer, in a half-crazed caricature) in 1926 before Cecilís eyes after raping his mother (Mariah Carey). There is nothing that Iíve been able to find that validates that this, or anything even close, happened to Gene. There is certainly nothing in Haygoodís article that mentions this. So with this completely fictional invention Daniels establishes immediately that all whites are no good and Cecil has no choice but to ďgo alongĒ if he wants to survive.

Thatís not all the fiction here. Strong and Daniels invent a second son (David Oyelowo). As near as I can determine, Gene and his wife, Helene, had only one son, and he worked as an investigator with the State Dept. Danielsí invented son is angry, an activist who gets arrested time and again and becomes a member of the Black Panthers. Amazingly this never-existed son is present at almost every seminal point in the civil rights movement! They also give him a Black Panther girlfriend obviously patterned on the infamous Angela Davis. Cecil bans him from the household, but in the end comes over to his point of view and apologizes to him. As far as I can determine, this is sheer fantasy, but itís inserted to make the movie a story about the civil rights movement and not Gene Allen.

The way Cecil gets his job at The White House is not the way Gene got his job; itís not even close.

Daniels and Strong also put in a continuing story of Cecil complaining that the black servers at The White House didnít get paid as much as the whites doing the same job, and demanding equal pay. I can find no authority for this. What I did find was that the serving staff was entirely black, so there could have been no problem with blacks being paid less than whites for the same work. Ergo, this must have been inserted for the sole purpose of making a racial provocation.

What is terribly wrong about this movie is that the segregation to which blacks were actually subjected was horrible. It was driven by the Democrat party in the south, which was solidly democrat then, and continued until the GOP could take over the political landscape in the south. Although democrat Lyndon Johnson was President when the Civil Rights Act of 1965 was passed, it was passed because it got overwhelming Republican support (16 democrat senators, 25%, voted against it; Republicans voted in favor 30-2!) Without almost unanimous Republican support, the bill would have failed. The movie is silent about this, but since itís a fact, and since it casts a bad light on his democrat party, Daniels had no place for it in the film.

If they wanted to make a movie about what blacks had to go through, fine, make one. Find a factual story to tell. Or make it a roman Š clef. But the story of Gene Allen and his service at The White House is not that story and it is a disservice to the man and the people whom he served to make this into one, and to defame all whites in general and well-meaning, kind people, like Ronald and Nancy Reagan, in particular just because they happen to be white is reprehensible.

Iíve received lots of emails from people urging people to stay away simply because Fonda is playing Nancy Reagan. These people miss the point (thatís nothing new for Republicans!). Actually, Fonda gives a pretty good portrayal of Nancy. A more compelling reason to stay away is because of the shameful racism it encourages.

Rather than being educational, this is a disingenuous film that propagates a destructive myth about Geneís life that only serves to incite further disharmony in our society.

Instead of being honest and reporting that this movie is using Geneís story as an excuse to tell an entirely different story, about the civil rights movement, this movie is being sold by many in the go-along mainstream media and the people who are promoting it as fact. An example is the following from CBS Morning News:

Norah OíDonnell, ďItís the real life story of Eugene Allen

Her co-anchor, Gayle King, ďItís an education for a lot of people

Oprah Winfrey, ďItís a history lesson

Well, itís none of those things. It could have been, but itís not.

August 10, 2013

 

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