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Viola Davis and Octavia Spenser

2.2.12 - THE HELP at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The Santa Barbara Film Festival honored VIOLA DAVIS with it's Outanding Performer of the Year Award on Friday night, and the red hot actresss was joined by screenwriter and director TATE TAYLOR, and co-star OCTAVIA SPENCER among others for the festivities.

TAYLOR, in essentially his first big-time feature effort, squeezed 3 Oscar nominated performances from his actors, with JESSWICA CHASTAIN also receiving a Best Supporting Actress nod to go along with OCTAVIA'S, and of course a Best Actress nomination for Ms. DAVIS.

TAYLOR, in a panel the next day, described the unlikely story of how he came to get the moive produced, first by getting the rights almost by default from his friend and roomate, KATHRYN STOCKETT. It seems the two were friends since childhood, and were sharing a flat in New York City, where the book, and eventually the screenplay wwere both written. STOCKETT was having great difficulty getting a literary agent, to get the book published, and after been rejected by 60, she gave TAYLOR the rights to do the screenplay, in an act of defeat.

TAYLOR wrote the thing in an attempt to help his friend get the book published. As luck would have it, in the process STOCKETT did finally got an agent and the book shot up the best seller list.

Meanwhile, the major studios tried to wrest control of the project from TAYLOR, who steadfastly held on to it in hopes of directing the film, despite his lack of experience. TAYLOR was primarily an actor, having appeared in WINTER'S BONE in 2010, QUEER AS FOLK, and some other, less than marquee parts since moving to Los Angeles in the nineties.

Dreamworks finally relented, and TAYLOR cast his other roomate, OCTAVIA SPENCER, and friend VIOLA DAVIS, and the rest, as they say, is history. SPENCER and DAVIS went on over the weekend to score the SAG Awards for their roles, the film won best ensemble cast, the equivilent of Best Picture, and the entire project, with 3 actors, and the film, are very much in the running for the Oscar.

When asked about the unlikely nature of a period piece from the South in the '60's going on to such success, both commercial and critical, TAYLOR had a precient reply:

"The world's in a prickly place right now. People are looking for inspiration and a summer of superheroes-that's fun-but when you leave the theater you can't relate. When you have ordinary people doing extraordinary things to change their lives, you wanna watch it."

I'll say.

Tate Taylor



12.30.11 - W.E.



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