Sheila Johnson may not be the household name that Oprah is, but she’s also one of the few Black women worldwide who can call themselves billionaires. The co-founder of BET Networks with her then-husband, Bob Johnson, added to her growing list of media, sports, and entertainment properties by helping “The Butler” get made. Johnson is one of a record 41 producers on the film. She gave The Tom Joyner Morning Show some insight into the business of movie making by explaining her participation in the movie, which topped the box office with $25 million in sales this past weekend.
“When it comes down to money and trying to get a film financed, it comes down to this is a $30 million dollar budget. When this script was brought to me by [producer] Laura Ziskin herself, along with [producing partner] Pam Williams, they couldn’t get one studio to look at this script. So it then became an independent movie and that put us into a whole ‘nother ballgame. I read the script once or twice and I said ‘Look, this movie has got to be made.’ “
Original producer Ziskin, who was behind the “Spiderman” trilogy died of breast cancer before “The Butler” went into production. She left money in her will to help get the movie made. Even while shooting the film, Daniels continued to seek financing. Johnson put in $2.5 million of her own money and personally helped Daniels seek investors for the rest.
“I really wanted all African-American investors. And that’s the way I started out with this. I was able to get [former NBA player] Michael Finley, Earl Stafford, Harry Martin. What you have to understand – the 41 producers – there’s groups. You go outside the boundaries of the United States. You find Canadian investors. There are people who build companies around raising money for movies. And that’s where you get 41 investors. But the people I’m naming, including myself, are individual investors.”
The Weinstein Company put up another $30 million to market and distribute the film, a welcome assist from a company known to champion and with a very successful track record of supporting Oscar-winning films. “It’s really great that [Harvey Weinstein] picked up distribution.
“That’s where Black movies suffer, because they can’t get distribution. So we want to do $60 million more and we’re on our way.” Johnson says that she is proud of her involvement in the film. She felt moved to participate because of the film’s themes of racial struggle and also it’s depiction of an ordinary Black family living their lives despite the harsh discrimination and obstacles they faced every day.
“This is one of the greatest unsung heroes and this is a story that needed to be told. Within the African-American culture, we’ve got a lot of people out there like this who have great stories. If there is a compelling script that can be put together into a screenplay, we can do this. This is not only a great story but it’s an inspiring story, it’s an educational story. I decided I was going to make it my mission to get this film made.”
For showtimes, tickets and more info on “The Butler” click here.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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