In its fight over ‘The Butler,’ Weinstein touts ... Katy Butler?

Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in Weinstein Co.'s "The Butler."

In David Boies, the Weinstein Co. has a powerful weapon at its disposal in its legal fight with Warner Bros. over the title of race-themed pic “The Butler.” But on Tuesday it was touting a less well-known name: a Michigan teen named Katy Butler.

Butler, as hard-core followers of goings-on in Weinsteinland will recall, was the young woman who in the spring of 2012 sponsored the petition in favor of lowering the rating for “Bully” from an R, citing bullying she’s faced herself. This time around she’s vexed by a title — or, more specifically, WB’s demands that Weinstein Co. change it.

“Warner Bros. needs to let people see ‘The Butler’ with its original title,” she wrote in her new petition, which seeks names to support Weinstein’s cause. WB and Weinstein are in a legal battle over the title, which WB says it owns as a result of a 1916 short it released.

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Starring Forest Whitaker as a butler to numerous presidents, the dramatic film, directed by Lee Daniels, is set to hit theaters on Aug. 16.

A Weinstein Co. spokeswoman said that the teen decided on her own to sponsor the petition. Still, the company was not shy about advertising her involvement, issuing a release Tuesday afternoon that said, “The Weinstein Company acknowledged today the online petition of outspoken Ann Arbor, MI, teen Katy Butler,” noting that she was the person who spearheaded a grassroots effort on behalf of “Bully.”

Of course, the “Bully” petition hit home for Butler and many other high-schoolers. It was less clear what standing she would have here, beyond a superficial nomenclature similarity.

Butler sees similarities between the two campaigns. “Claiming that this new movie will take away from the 1916 short and cause confusion for the audience is almost as ridiculous as saying my name, Katy Butler, will create confusion,” she said, adding, “I just hope they don’t make me change my last name after this petition gets out there!”



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