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"Lee Daniels' The Butler" has been cleaning up at the box office, and it's probably gonna snag a few Oscar noms this season. Perhaps its most impressive feat -- besides getting Oprah back on the big screen after far too long -- is making President Obama cry. Just a little. Sure, it's had plenty of moviegoers wondering if someone's been slicing onions nearby, but to make the leader of the United States tear up? That's an honor.
Radio host Tom Joyner and co-host Sybil Wilkes visited the Oval Office yesterday for an interview with the President in anticipation of today's 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The conversation turned to the Lee Daniels drama, starring Forest Whitaker as a real-life butler who worked for seven U.S. presidents. Although Whitaker's Cecil Gaines was retired from his work at the White House by the time Obama was elected, the landmark historical event figures into the end of the film.
Obama told Joyner, "I teared up thinking about not just the butlers who worked here in the White House, but an entire generation of people who were talented and skilled. But because of Jim Crow and because of discrimination, there was only so far they could go. ... And yet with dignity and tenacity, they got up and worked every single day and put up with a whole lot of mess because they hoped for something better for their kids."
He also appreciated the movie's performances, gushing, "I thought Forest Whitaker was wonderful. And Oprah, my girl, she can act."